The Danish government said they plan to kill 15 million minks after the animals spread a coronavirus mutation to humans.
In a press release, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said that a mutation of the virus has already spread from the infected minks to 12 people in North Jutland.
Frederiksen added that the virus could spread to other countries and "carry the risk that the upcoming vaccine will not work as it should."
"Denmark has a responsibility to our population," Frederiksen said in the news release. "With the mutation that has now been established, we now also have a greater responsibility for the rest of the world. A mutated virus risks being spread from Denmark to other countries. Therefore, we must take the situation on the Danish mink farms extremely seriously."
— Regeringen (@regeringDK) November 4, 2020
Government officials said the first mink farms were infected with COVID-19 in mid-June and has since spread to 207 farms across Jutland.
"We are facing one of the biggest health crises the world has ever experienced," Minister of Food, Agriculture and Fisheries Mogens Jensen said. "The government and I are painfully aware of what this means for all the Danish mink breeders who are about to lose their livelihood and for some, their life's work. But it is the right thing to do in a situation where the vaccine, which is currently the light at the end of a very dark tunnel, is in danger."
According to the Associated Press, roughly 17 million mink furs are produced yearly, making Denmark one of the world’s leading mink fur exporters.
40% of the global mink production is generated by Kopenhagen Fur, which consists of 1,500 Danish breeders.
Killing the country’s 15 million minks could cost up to 5 billion kroner ($785 million), NBC News reported.