500,000 sharks could be killed for use in coronavirus vaccine

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Sharks are slaughtered for squalene, a natural oil made in their liver (Photo: Getty Images / iStockphoto)

Half a million sharks could be slaughtered for an ingredient used in coronavirus vaccines, environmentalists have warned.

Squalene, a natural oil made in the liver of sharks, is used in some of the current Covid-19 vaccines. The substance is currently used medicinally as an adjuvant – an ingredient that increases the effectiveness of vaccines by creating a stronger immune response.

British drug giant GlaxoSmithKline is currently using shark squalene in flu shots and has said it will manufacture a billion doses of the substance for potential use in covid injections in May.

It takes around 3000 sharks to extract a ton of squalene.

According to Shark Allies, a California-based conservation group, around 250,000 sharks would need to be killed to provide the world’s population with a dose of a covid vaccine containing liver oil.

The researchers said it would likely take two doses to immunize the world’s population – which would increase the number of sharks required to half a million.

Stefanie Brendl, Founder and Executive Director of Shark Allies, said: “Harvesting anything from a wild animal will never be sustainable, especially if it is a top predator that does not breed large. number.

A great white shark swimming with a faint smile on its face just below the surface. The environment is the deep blue ocean. The shark appears to be in hunt mode.

About three million sharks are killed for squalene each year (Photo: Getty Images / iStockphoto)

“There are so many unknowns about the extent and duration of this pandemic, and then how many versions we have to go through, that if we continue to use sharks, the number of sharks caught for this product could be very high, year after year after year.

Environmentalists estimate that around three million sharks are killed each year for squalene, which is also used in cosmetics and machine oil.

Scientists are testing a synthetic version of squalene, made from fermented sugar cane, in an attempt to protect shark populations.

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