As many as 5 lakh sharks are likely to be slaughtered in order to develop enough doses of an effective vaccine for COVID-19, a shark support group has said.
Shark Allies, a California-based conservation group, has warned that in order to create one dose of COVID-19 vaccine each for every single person on the planet, about 2.5 lakh sharks will have to be killd for their liver oil. If two doses are required per person, then the number of sharks would double to 5 lakh.
Vaccines consist of an immunological agent called adjuvant, which makes it more efficient by strengthening its immune response. With the help of adjuvants, vaccines can produce more antibodies, and effectively arm consumers with longer-lasting immunity against the disease. Squalene is one such adjuvant. It is a natural oil that is present in the liver of sharks.
According to conservationists, around 30 lakh sharks are killed every year so that human beings can utilise squalene in cosmetics, machine oil and other products. With the sudden spike in demand for mass production vaccines, conservationists fear for the shark population and their endangerment.