A Coronavirus Vaccine Could Kill Half A Million Sharks, Conservationists Warn

Grey reef sharks, seen in Fiji, are amongst the leading species of sharks fished for their liver oil.

Reinhard Dirscherl/ullstein bild through Getty Images

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Reinhard Dirscherl/ullstein bild through Getty Images

Grey reef sharks, seen in Fiji, are among the top species of sharks fished for their liver oil.

Reinhard Dirscherl/ullstein bild via Getty Images

Non-animal squalenes identical chemical nature to shark squalene must imply an equivalent efficiency in vaccines, according to Shark Allies. The extraction of shark squalene has actually been a more attractive option for producers as it can cost less and yield greater amounts than non-animal options.

Brendl worries that a reliance on shark squalene in coronavirus vaccine trials is short-sighted and prevents the exploration of sustainable options.

Squalene, a substance that is collected from the livers of sharks, is a common moisturizing active ingredient in cosmetics. However its also used in malaria and flu vaccines as an agent that improves the immune systems reaction.

” Our ask is that we begin testing the alternatives, since long-term, we can not depend on a wild animal resource for a worldwide requirement of anything,” she said.

Shark Allies, a nonprofit that supporters for the security of sharks, tasks that some 500,000 sharks might be eliminated if a coronavirus vaccine with shark squalene shows to be reliable. Already, an estimated 2.7 million sharks are killed annually for their squalene to make cosmetics, according to the group.

As of Oct. 2, there were 193 coronavirus vaccines in pre-clinical and medical evaluation, according to information released by the World Health Organization. A minimum of five of those vaccines contain shark squalene, according to Shark Allies.

There are more sustainable squalene alternatives, said Brendl. Squalenes non-animal sources include olive oil, sugarcane, wheat germ, germs and yeast.

A conservation group is warning that the development of an efficient coronavirus vaccine on an international scale could wreck shark populations worldwide, as researchers race to produce a vaccine utilizing an oil originated from sharks.

When it pertains to a potentially life-saving vaccine, Brendl isnt saying that shark populations are worthier of protection than humans. But conserving the oceans leading predators, she stated, can in fact protect the rest our environment– people included.

” They keep our fish stock healthy, they keep the food chain undamaged, they keep illness out of other animal populations,” she stated. “Good luck trying to replace that when we lose them.”

NPRs Andrew Craig and Dorothy Parvaz modified this interview and produced for broadcast.

” The issue is that squalene, utilized as an active ingredient in a COVID-19 vaccine, will be viewed as something thats unavoidable, and then as it ends up being checked, it becomes the normal component, and absolutely nothing else will be tested,” Shark Allies executive director Stefanie Brendl informed NPRs Weekend Edition Saturday.