Farmers in Finland will start vaccinating the country”s entire population of mink against the coronavirus.
Local authorities in the country have given permission for an experimental vaccine to be used, the Finnish Food Authority announced.
Vaccines will only be authorised when no other jab is available, said Liisa Kaartinen, chief inspector of the authority.
The grant for vaccination of mink will last until the end of December when new data will need to be provided, she added.
Mink are bred for their fur and present particular risks of COVID-19 contamination.
They are also considered to be the only animal capable of transmitting Covid-19 to humans, threatening the future effectiveness of vaccines.
In Denmark, the country’s government ordered for all mink to be culled after a mutated strain of the virus began affecting farms last November.
But Finland’s Mink Breeders’ Association has been working with researchers at the University of Helsinki to develop a vaccine for the animals to control and prevent the spread of the virus.
“We have prepared about half a million doses, which should be enough to vaccinate all the animals twice,” said Jussi Peura, head of research at the association.
As the clinical trials have not yet been completed, the vaccine cannot be distributed commercially and must be used according to strict procedures on Finland’s 1,000 mink farms So far no new cases of COVID-19 have been identified among mink in the country.
The breeders’ association claims that its vaccine — which will only be licensed in Finland — is the first to be approved in the EU.