Half a million sharks could be slaughtered for Covid-19 vaccine, warn wildlife experts

Half a million sharks could be slaughtered for a Covid-19 vaccine, warn wildlife experts.

THE natural oil, squalene is found in the liver of sharks, and is used for medicinal purposes.

It is also used as an adjuvant – an ingredient used in some vaccines that helps create a stronger immune response in people receiving the vaccine.

And it is being used in trial vaccines for coronavirus.

Estimates from California-based group Shark Allies suggest that immunising everyone in the world with one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine containing squalene would require around 250,000 sharks, depending on the quantities used.⁠

This doubles to half a million if two doses are required, as researchers say is likely. ⁠

Many of the species targeted for being rich in squalene, such as the gulper shark and the basking shark, are classed as vulnerable, meaning that their populations are decreasing and they could become endangered if the circumstances threatening them continue. ⁠

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.’”

Shark Allies has set up a petition “Stop Using Sharks in COVID-19 Vaccine – Use EXISTING Sustainable Options”, which has already received 12,752 of its target 15,000 signatures.

They state: “Using sharks in COVID-19 vaccines is short-sighted, unpredictable, and unsustainable. There are better alternatives. The industry must listen.

“It is in the best interest of the consumers, producers, and governments to create long-term solutions for such a critical issue for humans and the environment.

“Relying on shark-based adjuvants could create problems in production in the long run.”
Shark Allies is asking the regulatory agencies as well as all vaccine, treatment, and supplement manufacturers to:
*Replace shark squalene with non-animal squalene ASAP.

*Include non-animal squalene in all tests for current and future products that use squalene.

*Support and develop large-scale production of non-animal squalene and therefore create a secure source that doesn’t depend on imports from countries that may control the raw materials, gain greater quality control and consistency in the product, and make using a renewable and sustainable resource that does not rely on wild animal species the new standard in the pharmaceutical industry.

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Written by

Tara Rippin

Tara Rippin is a reporter for Spain’s largest English-speaking newspaper, Euro Weekly News, and is responsible for the Costa Blanca region.
She has been in journalism for more than 20 years, having worked for local newspapers in the Midlands, UK, before relocating to Spain in 1990.
Since arriving, the mother-of-one has made her home on the Costa Blanca, while spending 18 months at the EWN head office in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol.
She loves being part of a community that has a wonderful expat and Spanish mix, and strives to bring the latest and most relevant news to EWN’s loyal and valued readers.

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