Denmark's government has backtracked on an order to kill all mink in the country after conceding it had no legal authority to order a mass cull.
Denmark ordered the cull, which included killing healthy mink, after finding that a coronavirus mutation had spread widely across more than 200 Danish mink farms. The mutated virus has also spread to 12 humans.
Though healthy minks may have been saved from the cull for now, a prior government order requiring the killing of all infected mink herds, as well as herds within a radius of 7.8 kilometers (4.8 miles), appears to still be in place.
Prior to the culls, Denmark was home to more than 15 million mink, which are raised for their pelts. The country's human population stands at around 5.5 million.
The cull of uninfected mink was thrown into doubt when questions were raised about the order's legal basis, according to state broadcaster TV2.
After facing questions from the opposition, the government admitted that it did not have the legal authority to order the cull of healthy mink on farms unaffected by the outbreak.
Covid-19 mutations are normal, and it is not yet clear if this mutation was significant.
“There are huge doubts relating to whether the planned cull was based on an adequate scientific basis,” Jakob Ellemann-Jensen, the leader of the Liberals opposition, told broadcaster TV2.
“At the same time, one's depriving a lot of people of their livelihoods.”
Europe’s CDC has said that the mutation “may have implications for immunity, reinfections and the effectiveness of Covid-19 vaccines,” but that “there is currently a high level of uncertainty over this.”