Enormous amount of efforts are being made all across the globe to produce viable vaccine for COVID-19. Russia being at the forefront of this race has already come up with “Sputnik V” as the possible cure for treating corona virus. Research is still going on in other countries to come up with the vaccine with rare blue blood of “Horseshoe Crab” being the key ingredient for this process of vaccine production.

Blood of Horseshoe Crab for Vaccine

Each spring, guided by the full moon, hundreds of thousands of horseshoe crabs clamber onto beaches across the U.S. mid-Atlantic to lay their eggs. For hungry birds, it’s a cornucopia. For drug companies, it’s a crucial resource for making human medicines safe.

That’s because these animals’ milky-blue blood provides the only known natural source of limulus amebocyte lysate, a substance that detects a contaminant called endotoxin. If even tiny amounts of endotoxin—a type of bacterial toxin—make their way into vaccines, injectable drugs, or other sterile pharmaceuticals such as artificial knees and hips, the results can be deadly.

Every year, pharmaceutical companies round up half a million Atlantic horseshoe crabs, bleed them, and return them to the ocean— after which many will die.

Why Over-dependence on Horseshoe Crabs?

Catching crabs and harvesting their blood is time-consuming, and the resulting lysate costs $60,000 per gallon. In 2016, a synthetic alternative to crab lysate, recombinant factor C (rFC), was approved as an alternative in Europe, and a handful of U.S. drug companies also began using it.

But on June 1, 2020, the American Pharmacopeia, which sets the scientific standards for drugs and other products in the U.S., declined to place rFC on equal footing with crab lysate, claiming that its safety is still unproven. Starting in July, Swiss-based Lonza will begin manufacturing a COVID-19 vaccine for human clinical trials—and they’ll have to use lysate in the vaccine if they plan to sell it in the U.S.

Destroying the Habitat and Population of Horseshoe Crabs

In 1990, biologists estimated 1.24 million crabs spawned in Delaware Bay, a main egg-laying spot and prime collection point for the companies. By 2002, that number had dropped to 333,500. In recent years, numbers of Delaware Bay spawning crabs have hovered around the same amount, with the 2019 survey estimating about 335,211.

Meanwhile, conservationists are monitoring the impact to the species that rely on horseshoe crab eggs as vital food sources. Sport fish that once were numerous, such as striped bass and flounder, have plummeted in number in the region, in part due to fewer horseshoe crab eggs. Human greed is slowly consuming nature around us and we still can’t predict where this “Greed” will end or will it stop before eradicating Human Race from Planet Earth, only time will tell.


  1. Absolutely true! Human greed is devastating nature. Recently, you must have heard about the oil spilling of a Japanese ship which went aground off the Southeast coast of Mauritius, an island in the Indian Ocean. The black fuel oil has greatly damaged the ecosystem of the island. How did this happen? International experts are investigating. In the meantime, 40 dolphins have died for reasons yet unknown.

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  2. I’m happy to hear of this natural source of limulus amebocyte lysate, but I’m also upset to hear that people are overharvesting it. Do we have a solution to this problem? The synthetic compound sounds like a viable solution. I wonder if more research is needed to prove its efficacy.

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