The Nordic country wants to prevent a new mutation of the virus, which the mink could be vector.
It is the only animal, to date, likely to contract the virus and infect humans. As such, Finland has announced the launch of a vast vaccination campaign for the nearly 2 million mink raised on its soil, the Finnish food authority announced on Friday (October 1). Under the aegis of the Ministry of Agriculture, authorization was given to inject a specific vaccine, still at the experimental stage.
This vaccine, called FurcoVac, was developed jointly by a group of researchers from the University of Helsinki and the Finnish fur industry (FIFUR). It does not yet benefit from commercial authorization, and can only be injected with special authorization from the authorities, such as a medical prescription. FIFUR has thus announced that it is “the first operator in the European Union to vaccinate animals against Covid-19“.
The research director at the Finnish Mink Breeders Association, Jussi Peura, said he had prepared “about half a million doses“, an amount “sufficient to vaccinate all animals twice“. “As clinical trials have not yet been completed, the vaccine must be used under strict procedures in Finland’s 1,000 mink farms to control and prevent the spread of the virus», He indicated. In giving its consent, however, the Finnish food authority clarified that the authorization was only valid “Until the end of December, when the applicant will have to provide new data”.
Finland is, to date, the only country to authorize a vaccination campaign on an animal. However, no case of Covid-19 has yet been detected in its mink farms. The latter nevertheless remain under increased surveillance, for fear of seeing the animal develop a new mutation which, according to preliminary studies, could threaten the effectiveness of the vaccine for humans.
Its neighbor, Denmark, the leading exporter of mink furs, took a drastic decision in December 2020: slaughter all of the more than 15 million animals on its territory, “for the common good“. Despite the controversy aroused by this radical measure, the executive announced at the end of September that it wanted to renew for 2022 the ban on all mink breeding on its territory, under penalty of euthanizing the animals.
For its part, the European Commission in charge of the file stipulated that “animal experiments (…) on mink farms in EU Member States and on raccoon farms in Finland will continue until March 2022“.