Image for representation. (Credits: AFP).

A majority of Covid-19 vaccines currently being developed are made using Squalene, a natural organic compound sourced from shark liver oil.
Last Updated: September 30, 2020, 10:43 PM IST


Conservationists are worried about the mass killings of shark in the process of pharmaceutical companies contesting to find a Covid-19 vaccine.

Many of these vaccines are made by using Squalene, a natural organic compound sourced from shark liver oil. This compound helps in the development of the vaccines, where it acts as an ‘adjuvant’ that primarily helps in boosting the immune response of the recipient. It also strengthens the dose of the medicine, reports Vice.

As per the date published by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society (RAPS), 17 out of the 176 candidate vaccine undergoing evaluation, have been reported to use these adjuvants. These data are substantiated by the research of a US non-profit organisation Shark Allies, that states at least five of those adjuvants are shark squalene-based.

For an instance, one of the adjuvants called MF59, generally contains 9.75 mg of squalene dose. Hence, in a calculation where if every person on Earth receives a single dose of it, an estimated of more than 2 lakh sharks would have to be killed.

If the doses are doubled to boost the immunity system, that is likely to lead to the killing of half a million sharks.

Scientists have been left worried as the global pandemic is multiplying itself in regards to people getting infected. So reliance on an already depleting species for sourcing a cure for a pandemic is a major threat to the population of the aquatic animal.

Sharks are already globally hunted for squalene, which is heavily used in the cosmetic industry.

As per the Vice report, a scientist has pointed out that the squalene industry is already taking 2.7 million sharks for cosmetics use and they predict that this number is likely to double and triple by 2024 and 2027. Not to overlook, million of sharks are also hunted for their fin and all of these overfishing are posing a threat to their survival.

However, to ensure the absolute preservation of sharks, scientists across various institutions have started turning towards plant-based sourcing of sqaulene including wheat, rice-bran oil etc.

Codagenix Inc said Serum Institute of India has started manufacturing the US biotech firm’s potential COVID-19 vaccine and it expects to begin early-stage human trial of the vaccine by the end of 2020 in the UK.