Half a million sharks could be killed for Global Race for Coronavirus Vaccine

By: | October 2nd, 2020

Worldwide scientists are racing to produce a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine. 

But at what cost

Conservationists have warned that the mass production of a COVID-19 vaccine could devastate shark populations around the world. For immunizing humankind against COVID-19, nearly half a million sharks may have to be killed.

Sharks are being harvested for squalene

Sharks have squalene, natural oil that is present in their liver. Squalene is used to make the vaccine more efficient by strengthening its immune response. But it comes at the price of mass-murder of sharks that are already declining in population. To extract one tonne of squalene, about 3,000 sharks are needed.

According to the conservationist group Shark Allies, for immunizing everyone in the world with one dose of this vaccine, about 250,000 sharks will need to be slaughtered. But some scientists believe two doses may be required. That means the number of slaughtering will rise to half a million. 

Stefanie Brendl, 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 are 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.”

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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