Half a million sharks could be killed to produce Covid-19 vaccine
Most vaccines currently under development to fight the new virus use an oil produced by sharks’ liver – squalene.
Squalene is already a substance that medicine and aesthetics have been using for some time, and in the case of a virus vaccine, this ingredient is especially used because it increases the effectiveness of the treatment. According to Sky News, a British media outlet, the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, uses this oil in its flu vaccines.
Now, according to the American association Shark Allies, cited by the online newspaper Notícias ao Minuto, three thousand sharks are needed to obtain a ton of squalene. To manufacture a mass vaccine for distribution worldwide, it will be necessary to kill at least 250,000 of these animals. To make a second dose it would take 500 thousand.
Scientists are looking at viable alternatives to squalene to ensure that several species of sharks are not at risk of becoming extinct due to this vaccine. One of the alternatives that is being studied is a synthetic version, through the fermentation of sugar cane, but there is still no concrete solution.
Experts in the field are concerned about the increased demand for this oil, as some species are already at risk of disappearing.
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