In the race to find a potent solution for the deadly coronavirus, at least half-a-million sharks may be slaughtered across the globe to prepare COVID-19 vaccine, claims an advocacy group Shark Allies.

Conservationists have warned that shark squalene is being considered for use in COVID-19 vaccines. Squalene is a natural organic compound that is found in shark liver oil.

Most of the commercial vaccines use squalene, a component of some adjuvants, that are added to vaccines to enhance the immune response.

According to Shark Allies, if the world’s population is to receive one dose each of the vaccines, around 250,000 sharks would have to be slaughtered. Experts suggest that between 2,500 to 3,000 sharks are required to extract one tonne of squalene.

If two doses are needed for every person in the world, then half a million sharks will have to be slaughtered, said a report in euronews.

The advocacy group has expressed concern that the killing of lakhs of sharks will do irreversible damage to the oceanic ecosystem.

Shark Allies has suggested that there is a need for use of plant-based and other synthetic alternatives for squalene to be used for vaccines.

“We are in no way trying to hinder or slow down the development of a COVID-19 vaccine or any other critical treatment that is needed to protect humanity from illness,” the euronews report quoted Stefanie Brendl, founder of California-based Shark Allies.

Stefanie Brendl further added, “we are asking that sustainably sourced squalene is used in all non-critical applications and where the alternative is just as effective as shark squalene, and that all future testing of adjuvanted vaccines is giving plant-derived sources equal consideration.” She also said that sourcing adjuvant from a wild animal is not a long-term solution.

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