COVID-19 vaccine: Can sugarcane save the lives of 5 lakh sharks that may be killed for the vaccine?
Vova Krasilnikov

Everyone waits for the day when the COVID-19 vaccine will reach every human in the world. Wait a minute, where are the animals? We are most probably using one of them to help us build the vaccine. Sharks have one of the ingredients in them to make any vaccine successful.

According to a report by Weather, it is estimated at least 5 lakh sharks are likely to be slaughtered to develop enough doses of an effective vaccine and immunise humans against COVID-19.

To prevent the killing of sharks for vaccines, scientists have been actively working on a synthetic version of an ingredient made from fermented sugar cane, added the report.

Shark Allies, a California-based conservation group, claimed that 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 killed for their liver oil. However, if two doses are required per person, then the number of sharks would double to 5 lakh.

The group alleged that around 30 lakh sharks are killed every year to serve various needs of humans.

“British pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline, which has announced mass production of 100 crore doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, has already been using shark squalene to make flu vaccines.”

Why are vaccines using sharks?

  • Vaccines have an immunological agent called adjuvant in it. These agents make the vaccine more efficient by strengthening their immune response.

  • In Latin, adjuvant means ‘to help’.

  • For vaccines to produce more antibodies, it needs help from adjuvants. This is to strengthen the vaccinated individual with longer-lasting immunity against the disease.

  • One such adjuvant is squalene, natural oil that is present in sharks’ liver.

  • Shark is not an animal with squalene. There are other animals too but remain the major commercial sources for this natural organic compound, stated the report.

  • One tonne of squalene means slaughtering of approximately 3,000 sharks.

  • Sharks such as the gulper shark and the basking shark are rich in natural oil. So, they might be used for the vaccine.

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