The coronavirus numbers in the world are showing no signs of slowing down. The leaders of the world have invested millions of dollars into research and development of a potential vaccine against the virus. According to a recent development report, nearly half a million sharks will need to be killed in order to extract their oil. This natural oil is an essential ingredient in the coronavirus vaccine. Yup. You read that right. As per the latest headlines of the Sky News, the natural shark liver oil, Squalene, is a vital ingredient in several coronavirus vaccine candidates. You’d be surprised to learn that Squalene is currently used as an adjuvant in medicine.
An adjuvant is a substance that increases the efficacy of a vaccine by boosting your immunity. Much to the world’s amazement, a British pharmaceutical giant named GlaxoSmithKline has been using Squalene to manufacture flu vaccines. The company went on air to claim that it will manufacture a billion doses of Squalene to make coronavirus vaccines. What’s even more shocking is that we need to kill nearly 3000 sharks to extract one tonne of Squalene. A California-based group Shark Allies said, “If the world’s population received one dose of a coronavirus vaccine containing the liver oil, around 250,000 sharks would need to be slaughtered depending on the amount of Squalene used.”
As the recent reports have been claiming, we might require two doses of the coronavirus vaccine to get immunized against it. Hence, according to the estimates, this will lead to the killing of nearly half a million sharks. In order to prevent such an inhumane act from taking place, scientists are testing a synthetic alternative adjuvant made from fermented sugar cane. The Executive Director of Shark Allies, Stefanie Brendl, said, “Harvesting something from a wild animal is never going to be sustainable, especially if it’s a top predator like sharks that don’t reproduce in huge numbers. There are so many unknowns of how big and how long this pandemic might go on, and then how many versions of it we have to go through, that if we continue using sharks, the number of sharks taken for this product could be really high, year after year after year.”
Squalene is not just used to manufacture vaccines. It also finds its use in manufacturing several cosmetics and other medicines. To manufacture the required amount every year, nearly three million sharks are killed. Sharks aren’t the only species in the world that have fallen victim to the human needs and demands. Humans need to wrap their heads around the concept of peaceful co-existence and understand that every living being on this planet has an equal right to live. While the world hopes to overcome this coronavirus pandemic soon, we also hope that the solution to this virus is a sustainable one.