“Human use, population and technology have reached that certain stage where Mother Earth no longer accepts our presence with Silence.”DALAI LAMA
Conservationists have warned that at least 5 lakh sharks are likely to be slaughtered in order to develop enough doses of an effective vaccine and immunise humankind against COVID-19.
Why need Shark for Vaccine?
All vaccines consist of an immunological agent called adjuvant—meaning “to help” in Latin—which makes the vaccine more efficient by strengthening its immune response. With the help of adjuvants, vaccines can produce more antibodies, and effectively arm consumers with longer-lasting immunity against the disease. One such Adjuvant is “SQUALENE”.
As per estimates made by conservationists, around 30 lakh sharks are killed every year so that human beings can utilise squalene in cosmetics, machine oil, and other products. British pharma giant GlaxoSmithKline, which has announced mass production of 100 crore doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, has already been using shark squalene to make flu vaccines.
Disaster for Ocean Ecology
Conservationists fear that this sudden spike in demand for mass production of vaccines will not just threaten the shark population, but may eventually lead to their endangerment as well, especially considering these top predators do not reproduce in huge numbers. With top predators gone, it will severely affect the delicate ecology of the oceans.
To protect the shark species, scientists have been actively working on a synthetic version of squalene made from fermented sugar cane. But with such an enormous, urgent, and ever-increasing requirement for vaccines against the novel coronavirus, which has so far infected 3.3 crore and killed 10 lakh people around the world, the number of sharks sacrificed for its production may even exceed the predicted number and continue to soar higher and higher.
Not only sharks other marine animals like Horseshoe Crab is also being targeted for the production of the COVID vaccine. For more info, read article below.
The measures taken by Governments to contain COVID will have very long term consequences on the environment as well as ecology of the oceans, as around 30-40% of the world population is dependent on Sea food for their livelihoods and as a staple diet.