Denmark is killing its large mink population after discovering a coronavirus mutation that can spread to humans, the nation’s government said Wednesday.
The country, which is the world’s largest supplier of mink fur, will cull as many as 17 million animals in an effort to stop the spread.
“We have a great responsibility towards our own population, but with the mutation that has now been found, we have an even greater responsibility for the rest of the world as well,” Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said in a news conference, according to the BBC.
She said Danish officials have seen the mutated virus display a weak reaction to antibodies.
The government said it is concerned that the variant could reduce the effectiveness of a future vaccine. It’s worth noting that all viruses mutate, something that doesn’t necessarily mean they are more dangerous.
Danish officials notified the World Health Organization and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
Twelve people have been diagnosed with the virus strain so far, according to the WHO. About 200 coronavirus cases in total can be traced to exposure from mink.
“It is normal for viruses to mutate or change over time. WHO works with networks of researchers, including evolutionary virologists, sequencing teams, and synthetic biologists to look at these changes,” the WHO said in a statement to NPR.