Denmark will cull as many as 1.7 crore minks after a mutated form of coronavirus was found on the animal's farms. Denmark's Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the mutated virus posed a "risk to the effectiveness" of a future COVID-19 vaccine.
The prime minister cited a government report which said that the mutated virus had been found to weaken the body's ability to form antibodies, making the COVID-19 vaccine development ineffective. Danish police and army personnel will help to carry out the mass cull in more than 1,000 farms.
Not just Denmark, coronavirus cases have also been detected in mink farms in Netherlands and Spain. Spain culled 100,000 mink in July after cases were detected in one of its farms. Studies are underway to find out how mink were spreading the coronavirus.
Denmark is the world's biggest producer of mink fur and its main export markets are China and Hong Kong. More than five crore minks a year are bred for their fur in China, Denmark, the Netherlands and Poland.
Mink, like their close relatives ferrets, are known to be susceptible to coronavirus, and like humans, they can show a range of symptoms, from no signs of illness at all, to severe problems, such as pneumonia.
Mink becomes infected by catching the virus from humans. However, genetic detective work has shown that in the Netherlands and Denmark, the virus might have passed the other way, from mink to humans.