Squalene is a substance extracted from the liver oil of sharks, which is known for creating a strong immune response by increasing the rate of production of antibodies.
It is effectively used in medicinal purposes. It is being used in flu vaccines currently by the British Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline(GSK).
The gulper shark and the basking shark are the two species required for extracting this oil. These two species are already vulnerable. With about 34 Million COVID cases Worldwide, imagine the amount of vaccine which needs to be produced which in turn needs a large volume of oil from the sharks.
Moreover, one tonne of squalene requires 3000 sharks. According to studies, one dose of COVID-19 vaccine would require oil from 250,000 sharks.
According to some researchers, two doses of vaccine is required, which doubles the sharks required to half a million.
The GSK would be manufacturing a billion doses of oil for the COVID vaccine.
In the long run, sustainability is being questioned by the Shark Allies.
According to Stephanie Brendle – founder and executive director of Shark Allies – Shark is already a top predator and has a lower reproduction rate. If we use sharks for our purpose violently, then this might endanger them to the edge of extinction. There is no certainty about the period of the pandemic as well.
Thus, Shark Allies are urging the companies to switch to plant-based alternatives, as it is said that the squalene can be extracted from plants as well. So, switching to this might be a better option than murdering sharks
Stephanie made it very clear that they are not trying to obstruct the creation of the vaccine for treating the human illness. All they are asking for is an alternative that would keep the aspect of sustainability in mind. The killing of wild animals is a harmful practice which requires awareness – in terms of destruction of the aquatic food chain and livelihoods.
Thus, the sustainability of the aquatic ecosystem has to be looked upon as an important aspect.