UNITED STATES.Los Angeles. An advocacy group for sharks, Shark Allies has warned that the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine can kill many sharks across the globe. The group claimed that at least 50,0000 sharks could be killed in the process of developing the vaccine.
According to Shark Allies, over 21,000 sharks would be killed just to ensure vaccine production in the United States.
Production of vaccines using shark liver oil
Most of the commercially available vaccines require an adjuvant. An adjuvant is an immunological agent which helps to improve the response of a vaccine. Vaccines can produce more antibodies with the help of adjuvants. Hence, it provides longer-lasting immunity against the disease.
This ingredient is usually found in the livers of sharks. The countries across the world are trying to fast-track the mass production of the vaccines for a large number of people.
Due to this, the sharks are at higher risk of being butchered for the COVID-19 vaccine production. Many animals carry this oil in their bodies. However, sharks are the most common commercial source for the substance.
Shark species like the gulper shark and the basking shark are rich in this oil. But, these species are already vulnerable and if they are targeted further, then they could be under serious threat.
Sharks under threat
Shark Allies is urging companies to stop murdering shark. Instead of that, they have requested them to use plants that can produce squalene for the COVID-19 vaccine. To protect the shark species, scientists have been actively working on a synthetic version of squalene made from fermented sugar cane.
All vaccines use a different kind of adjuvants. For example, for influenza strains can be treated by adjuvant which is derived from squalene oil. Squalene oil is found in the liver of sharks, humans and many other animals.
British pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has already announced plans to use adjuvant in their vaccines. GSK is aiming to produce over 1 billion vaccine doses by collaborating with other companies.
COVID-19 has infected around 3.3 crores ($4,49,407) and killed 10 lakh ($13,618) people around the world. Due to this, the demand for vaccines against COVID-19 has increased enormously. Thus, the number of sharks sacrificed for the vaccine production may even exceed the predicted number.