Russia fur company head floats idea of vaccinating minks for COVID-19

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - The acting head of a big Russian state fur company floated the idea on Tuesday of vaccinating minks to prevent the spread of COVID-19, after millions of infected minks were destroyed in Denmark and cases of the disease were found elsewhere.

The World Health Organization has expressed concern about the threat of people catching mutated strains of COVID-19 from infected minks. Two weeks ago, Denmark ordered all 17 million minks on its farms destroyed, after concluding that a strain of the virus that passed from humans to minks had mutated and spread back to humans.

Ivan Nesterov, acting head of state fur company Russian Sable, told the Zvezda TV station on Monday that Russia was testing a vaccine, and could vaccinate its minks once the process was finished.

When reached on Tuesday, he redirected questions to the agriculture ministry. The ministry's veterinary department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Russia has given emergency approval for a COVID-19 vaccine for use in humans. Earlier this month, Russia announced a pre-clinical study into a veterinary vaccine for COVID-19, tested on 40 cats and 40 dogs.

(Reporting by Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber; Editing by Andrew Osborn and Peter Graff)