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Mink Cull and a Prime Minister

The plan to cull minks in Denmark to prevent the spread of a new SARS-CoV-2 strain threatened to bring down the Danish government, the New York Times reports.

Earlier this month, northern Denmark went on lockdown after a SARS-CoV-2 strain initially found among minks was detected among about a dozen people. Officials there also stepped up a plan to cull the mink population to prevent the spread of that strain, which they feared could be different enough from other viral strains — due to a mutation affecting the spike protein — to potentially influence the effectiveness of vaccines currently in development.

According to the Times, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen ordered the culling of all minks in the country two weeks ago and had the Danish military step in to help, as the mink population there numbers more than 15 million. However, the agricultural minister objected to the action, saying there is no legal basis for the slaughter and had previously warned that the government's authority did not extend beyond minks known to be infected, it adds. The cull shifted focus, the Times notes, to concentrate on minks from near where the new SARS-CoV-2 strain was found. Still, the Times adds that the agricultural minister resigned and opposition leaders have called on Frederiksen to step down.

NPR notes, though, that a deal was reached to make the cull retroactively legal and that Frederiksen apologized for the oversight.

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