Denmark to cull all mink after warning about 'serious' virus mutation risk

Denmark officials have announced a decision to cull millions of mink due to mutated coronavirus that may be transmitted to humans. Government officials call this a difficult decision due to the impact it will have on the nation's mink farmers, but warn that it is necessary due to the mutated virus's alleged resistance to antibodies and the risk that a future vaccine may not protect against the mutation.

The announcement comes from Denmark prime minister Mette Frederiksen who said in a statement that Statens Serum Institut identified the mutated virus. Twelve people living in the northern part of Denmark were found to be infected with this variation of the coronavirus.

In her statement, Frederiksen said that there is a risk that the mutated virus could spread to other countries and that a future vaccine released for the novel coronavirus may not be effective against the mutated form, though there aren't any published scientific studies to back up these claims at this time.

Likewise, Frederiksen claims that experts found this mutated version of the virus is less sensitive to the antibodies that help protect against infection. The prime minister went on to say (translated):

Therefore, the government has decided that it is necessary to kill all mink in Denmark, including the breeding animals, even though it is a serious decision for the country's mink farmers. At the same time, the authorities will announce a number of additional restrictions tomorrow, which will apply to the population in a number of municipalities in North Jutland and Himmerland.

Denmark's National Operating Staff (NOST) will coordinate the culling, which will involve humanely putting down the mink by placing them in a chamber that contains carbon monoxide. The nation is encouraging mink farmers to cull their own herds rather than requesting the government to do it, offering those farmers extra payment for taking on the burden.

Approximately 15 million mink will be culled, according to ABC News. Similar outbreaks recently spurred the culling of mink in Spain, as well.

Note: There are no studies published on this virus mutation or its potential effects on humans at this time. The mink culling is an effort to prevent the mutation from spreading while scientists investigate its potential impact on the pandemic.