Denmark is to slaughter 17 million mink after the country claimed a mutation of Coronavirus posed a risk to humans and a future vaccine.
Several outbreaks of the virus have been found at mink farms in the Nordic country, which is the largest producer of mink skins in the world.
Millions of the animals will be killed following fears that an evolving strain of Covid-19 found in the furry animals would “pose a risk” to the sought-after future vaccine.
Health authorities found virus strains in humans and mink which showed a “decreased sensitivity” against antibodies, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said.
She said: “Due to the discovery of a mutated infection in mink, which weakens the ability to form antibodies, resolute action is needed. It is necessary to kill all mink.
“The mutated virus in mink may pose a risk to the effectiveness of a future vaccine.”
Denmark’s armed forces and fire services will also be involved in culling the animals, the Prime Minister added.
Minks have already been culled in the Netherlands and Spain after finding infections.
Denmark’s health minister said around half of Danes in Northern Denmark had caught the same strain of Covid that was found at the farms.
Authorities had registered five cases of the new strain on mink farms and 12 cases in humans.
The mink herd in Denmark totals between 15 million and 17 million, authorities said.
Kaare Molbak, Denmark’s top epidemiologist, said that in the “worst-case scenario, the pandemic will restart, this time in Denmark,” The Financial Times reported.
Mink farmers will receive compensation for the cull with Danish media suggesting it could cost up to $788 million (£607m).