September 28, 2020
Around half a million sharks may be slaughtered in an effort to make a Covid-19 vaccine, wildlife experts have claimed.
The top predators are harvested for squalene, a natural oil made in the liver of sharks, which is used medicine – including in current flu jabs.
The ingredient is used as an adjuvant to increase the effectiveness of a vaccine by creating a stronger immune response.
It is used in some of the candidates for a Covid-19 vaccine.
If one of those vaccines is used world-wide, conservationist group Shark Allies believe around 250,000 sharks will need to be slaughtered to provide one dose for each person.
However some scientists believe two doses may be needed to immunise the population, meaning around 500,000 sharks would need to be slaughtered, according to the California-based group’s calculations.
Stefanie Brendl, founder and executive director of Shark Allies, said: ‘Harvesting something from a wild animal is never going to be sustainable, especially if it’s a top predator that doesn’t reproduce in huge numbers.
‘There’s 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 numbers of sharks taken for this product could be really high, year after year after year.’
In a Facebook post, she added: ‘We are not trying to slow down or hinder the production of a vaccine.
This article was posted: Monday, September 28, 2020 at 3:25 am