COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Denmark’s Health Agency, concerned by the war in Ukraine, will buy 2 million iodine tablets to protect people in the event of a nuclear accident close to the Nordic country, it said on Monday.
Iodine is considered a way of protecting the body against conditions such as thyroid cancer in case of radioactive exposure, and worries about nuclear incidents in Ukraine have prompted stockpiling across Europe.
“The developments of COVID-19 over the past two years has shown us that it is important to be prepared. The war in Ukraine has shown us that the world is unpredictable,” the agency said in a news release.
Denmark is more than 900 kilometres from the nearest nuclear plants in Ukraine, according to the health agency, and there is currently no concrete risk to Denmark, Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said in an emailed comment.
The stock of iodine would be used in the event of an accident at a nuclear power plant in the vicinity of Denmark, which has no nuclear plants but is close to some in Sweden and Germany, or onboard nuclear-powered vessels in Danish waters.
A stock of 2 million tablets would cover risk groups including children and young people up to 18 years of age, pregnant and breastfeeding women and emergency personnel up to the age of 40, according to the agency’s estimates.
For people over the age of 40, no protective effect is seen from taking iodine tablets, it said.
The first deliveries are expected within two to three months.
(Reporting by Stine Jacobsen, editing by Ed Osmond)