The world is grappling with the ongoing impacts of the Covid-19. The health-care system is working under constant pressure in this pandemic. There is no known cure for this virus yet, and scientists are trying to develop a vaccine.
A possible Covid-19 vaccine relies on shark livers, and conservationists are warning it could decimate the shark population.
A British pharmaceutical company called GlaxoSmithKline currently manufactures a flu vaccine, which includes shark squalene, which is natural oil produced in the liver. It’s known to create a strong response from the recipient’s immune system.
The company plans to produce a Billion doses of a coronavirus vaccine, which would include shark squalene.
As per the data published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society (RAPS), 17 out of the 176 candidate vaccine undergoing evaluation, have been reported to use these adjuvants.
Shark Allies, a California-based conservation group, has warned that in order to create one dose of Covid-19 vaccine each for every single person on the planet, about 2.5 lakh sharks will have to be killed for their liver oil. However, if two doses are required per person, then the number of sharks would double to 5 lakh.
Did you know that shark liver oil (squalene) is a common ingredient in vaccines? As it stands 5 COVID-19 vaccine developers are even using it, despite EXISTING sustainable alternatives. Help us send a message to them, please sign and share far and wide! https://t.co/nkx2kZPzmh pic.twitter.com/LwruuMXU0g
— Shark Allies (@SharkAllies) September 11, 2020
All vaccines consist of an immunological agent called adjuvant—meaning “to help” in Latin—which makes the vaccine more efficient by strengthening its immune response. One such adjuvant is squalene, natural oil that is present in the liver of sharks.
For an instance, one of the adjuvants called MF59 generally contains 9.75 mg of squalene dose. Hence, in a calculation where if every person on Earth receives a single dose of it, an estimated of more than 2 lakh sharks would have to be killed.
If the doses are doubled to boost the immunity system, that is likely to lead to the killing of half a million sharks.
With such an enormous, urgent, and ever-increasing requirement for vaccines against the novel coronavirus, which has so far infected 3.3 crores and killed 10 lakh people around the world, the number of sharks sacrificed for its production may even exceed the predicted number and continue to soar higher and higher.
Shark Allies estimates that more than 21,000 sharks would have to die to supply enough of an adjuvanted vaccine for the United States alone.
While squalene is also found in the livers of many other animals, sharks remain the major commercial sources for natural oil.