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Half a Million Sharks Could Be Killed to Make a Global COVID Vaccine

Vox – “Conservationists are worried that the mass production of a COVID-19 vaccine could devastate shark populations around the world, as a number of pharmaceutical companies are found to be using oil from the animals’ livers in the development of their vaccines. Squalene, a natural organic compound sourced primarily from shark liver oil, is most commonly used by pharmaceutical companies to produce cosmetics and sunscreens. But the substance also plays a valuable part in vaccine development for the way in which it acts as an “adjuvant”—that is, a pharmacological agent that increases the strength of certain medicines by boosting the immune response in recipients. In short, shark liver oil helps make vaccines stronger. And that, of course, is bad news for sharks—particularly at a time when every major country in the world is scrambling to develop and produce a coronavirus vaccine on a global scale. Data published by the Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society (RAPS) and the World Health Organisation (WHO) indicates that of the 176 candidate vaccines in clinical and preclinical evaluation, 17 use adjuvants. And according to research by US non-profit organisation Shark Allies, at least five of those adjuvants are shark squalene-based…”

If every person on Earth was given a single dose of that vaccine, an estimated 249,351 sharks would have to be killed. If two doses of the vaccine are needed to immunise the global population—a likely outcome, according to some medical experts—the prospective death toll climbs to nearly half a million sharks…”

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