Denmark says it plans to kill all farmed mink in the country, at least 15 million animals, rather than take any chances with a mutated version of the coronavirus. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen warned Wednesday that according to a government report, a version of the virus spreading from minks to humans weakens the body's ability to produce antibodies, threatening the effectiveness of future COVID vaccines, the BBC reports. "The virus has mutated in mink. The mutated virus has spread to humans," Frederiksen said. She said the mutated virus has been found in at least 12 people. "It is very, very serious," she said. "Thus, the mutated virus in minks can have devastating consequences worldwide." Authorities say almost half the 783 human COVID cases in northern Denmark are related to mink.
Experts outside Denmark say the country hasn't released studies on the mutation yet and they will need more information before they can assess how dangerous it might be, the New York Times reports. Denmark started culling millions of mink last month after infected animals were found on dozens of farms. The country, which is one of the world's biggest mink exporters with around 1,000 farms, has promised to compensate farmers. The Humane Society International Welfare group praised the government for taking "such an essential and science-based step to protect Danish citizens," the AP reports. Spokeswoman Joanna Swabe said that while the death of millions of mink is a tragedy, "farmers will now have a clear opportunity to pivot away from this cruel and dying industry." (Read more coronavirus stories.)