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The race against time to develop COVID-19 vaccine puts shark lives at risk

The world is waiting for the coronavirus vaccine. The development of the vaccine is progressing in various countries. Now, a report by the California-based NGO Shark Allies warns that as many as five million sharks might get slaughtered for the preparation of the vaccine.

As per the report, squalene taken from the liver of shark is used to make the vaccine. Squalene is a natural organic compound found in shark liver oil. It is used in vaccines to boost the immune system. Unless the researchers develop either a synthetic or a plant-derived compounds for the vaccine, a mass killing of sharks might occur.

The Shark Allies estimates that two doses of the vaccine per person could kill up to five million sharks. Although the COVID-19 vaccine is essential for the world, the killing of sharks could lead to its extinction, says Shark Allies. For a long time, squalene has been used as a moisturising agent in skin creams and lip balms. In 2016, the United States used it in the flu vaccine. According to Shark Allies, three million sharks are killed for squalene every year. In Scandinavia, Squalene is a part of folk medicine. Reports indicate that it has been used for wounds, heart disease, cancer and, even, infertility.

Yeast, bacteria, olive oil and sugarcane are some of the alternatives Shark Allies recommends. The NGO is collecting signatures for the protection of sharks through online campaigns.

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