Half a million sharks may have to be killed to immunize the entire world with the Covid-19 vaccine, a shark support group has said.Sharks are harvested for a natural oil that is being used in the Covdi-19 vaccine candidates.
This natural oil is called squalene, which is currently used as an adjuvant in medicine – an ingredient that increases the effectiveness of a vaccine by creating a stronger immune response.
Around 3,000 sharks are needed to extract one tonne of squalene.
A California-based group Shark Allies has said that immunizing 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.
According to the Shark Allies, species targeted for being rich in squalene include the gulper shark and the basking shark, which are classed as vulnerable, meaning that their populations are decreasing and they could become endangered if the circumstances threatening them continue.The advocacy group has said that harvesting an endangered specie for a component in the medicine is not sustainable.