HELSINKI, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- Finland plans to vaccinate fur farm minks across the country against COVID-19 using an experimental vaccine called FurcoVac by the end of January next year, a Finnish researcher told Xinhua on Friday.
Half a million vaccine doses will be produced in all, said Jussi Peura, research director at the Finnish Fur Breeders' Association (FIFUR).
FIFUR is a trade and educational organization for the fur industry, which initiated and financed the vaccination project, led by Peura.
FurcoVac is the only product of its kind available for minks in Europe at this time, Peura said.
"The Finnish fur industry will be the first operator in the European Union (EU) to vaccinate animals against COVID-19," Marja Tiura, chief executive officer (CEO) of FIFUR, said in a press release issued on Thursday.
The Finnish Food Authority, under the auspices of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, which supervises veterinary activities in Finland, has given temporary approval for the vaccine under the Medicines Act.
According to FIFUR, a vaccine product with conditional license is similar in terms of its composition and manufacturing process to a prescription medicine but does not have marketing authorization, which has stricter requirements.
The vaccine has been developed since autumn 2020 jointly by FIFUR and a group of researchers of infectious diseases at the University of Helsinki.
The aim of the project is to prevent the emergence of viruses on Finnish farms and thereby to protect the population.
In Denmark and the Netherlands, millions of minks have had to be culled to prevent the disease from spreading to humans.
Minks and finnraccoons, as well as cats and white-tailed deer, have been found to be susceptible to COVID-19.
Although Finland has not recorded a single case of COVID-19 in fur animals, FIFUR noted, the country still has a vaccination program for them, which may in the future include a COVID-19 shot.
Finland's mink farm operators have complied with the protection guidelines drawn up together with the Finnish authorities since the spring of 2020. Under the decision of the European Commission, animal testing at mink and finnraccoon farms will continue in all member states of the EU until March 2022, FIFUR said. Enditem