As the devastating year nears its end, the urgency for COVID-19 vaccine is increasing. Lives will not be the same as before until vaccines are available for all. Scientists are doing all they can to find the vaccine which will be low at value but at the same time efficient. While the efforts to find the vaccine continue, conservationists warn people that atleast 5 lac sharks may be at the risk of getting slaughtered for the vaccines.
What will be obtained from sharks?
Adjuvant, an immunological agent is an important component of every vaccine. It produces antibodies that help the vaccine in fighting the infection.
An adjuvant called Squalene has been found to provide dependable results against the coronavirus. Squalene can be found in the livers of human beings, sharks, and many other animals as well. However, sharks are considered to be the best source.
The liver oils help the sharks to maintain buoyancy in water. The amount of squalene present will be higher if the shark lives deeper in the ocean. This makes deep-sea sharks like Gulper and Basking high in demand.
A UK-based pharma company called GlaxoSmithKline already uses the shark squalene in making vaccines against the flu. Recently, GlaxoSmithKline has announced the production of 100 crore doses of vaccine for COVID-19.
NEED FOR CONCERN
The reproduction rate of sharks is not very high. Conservationists fear that the sharks might be endangered if the mass slaughtering of sharks is carried out for COVID-19 vaccines.
According to the estimation of a California based Conservation Group named Shark Allies, for one dose of vaccine for every human being on this planet, around 2.5 lac sharks would have to be slaughtered. If we consider the possibility that 2 doses are required for every person, 5 lac sharks will lose their lives.
Like several other animals, sharks are already exploited by humans. Nearly 30 lac sharks are already killed every year. The squalene obtained from their livers serves an important role in cosmetics, vaccines, and many other products.
Squalene is available in plants also. Even though the quantity of Squalene obtained from plants is much lower, it is comparatively a better method than killing lacs of innocent sharks. Or, other synthetic alternatives for squalene can be used.
Outraged at the amount of animal cruelty, a petition with the title ‘Stop Using Sharks in COVID-19 Vaccine – Use EXISTING Sustainable Options’ has been filed on Change.org against using sharks for the vaccine. Over 49,000+ people have signed the petition so far. If you’re also against this mass slaughter take out few minutes to sign the petition and save another species on earth from getting endangered.