All eyes from around the world are pinned on the news of COVID-19 vaccine update. People are eagerly waiting for the Coronavirus vaccine to be launched one and for all and when we can finally stay safe from this pandemic situation. But as science experts around the world race to develop a cure, it could cause a terrible loss in habitat of sharks. Reports state that over 5 lakh sharks may be killed in the development of this vaccine. SharkAllies, a non-profit organisation dedicated to the conservation of sharks and rays, have given this shocking figure. They have sent a petition to all vaccine-producing companies about using alternatives that do not use squalene, a natural oil from sharks. Now what exactly is squalene and why does it threaten the shark population? How is it related to COVID19 vaccine? Read on to know all in detail. COVID-19 Vaccine Latest News Update: Anti-Coronavirus Drug by Johnson & Johnson Produces Strong Immune Response In Early Trial.

COVID19 Vaccines Use Squalene

One of the widely used ingredients in making of all COVID19 vaccines is squalene. It as an adjuvant in medicine. Adjuvant is an ingredient that enhances the effectiveness of a vaccine and also creates a stronger immune response. With a stringer immune response, the level of vaccine required per patient is reduced. So it is very valuable product in making of a vaccine, especially one that needs to be produced on larger quantities. China Targets to Produce 1 Billion COVID-19 Vaccine Doses a Year.

What is Squalene?

Squalene is a natural oil which is found in the liver of sharks, animals and even humans. Sharks have been a source of squalene from a long time. Squalene from sharks has been used to make adjuvants, one of the very common one is used in influenza vaccines. About 5 adjuvants in the currently vaccine development use shark-based squalene. Interesting Facts About Sharks From Being World’s Biggest Fish to Growing 50,000 Teeth!

As per the SharkAllies, approximately 3,000 sharks are required to produce a ton of squalene. They have even provided estimates of adjuvants used in COVID19 vaccines. Given that a person may need more than one dose of the vaccine, shark squalene usage does pose a significant loss to shark populations. In their petition, they say that they are in no way trying to hinder the development of vaccine but demand a sustainable use of the squalene or finding alternatives that can be used. Squalene can be found in plants, fungi, bacteria as well and that could be a possible way of sustainable use.

According to WHO, there are currently 34 vaccines in evaluation out of which 17 use adjuvants. Sharks are already an endangered species, killing them in the name of using squalene threatens their population to a great extent.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Sep 28, 2020 03:17 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website