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Over half a million sharks could be killed for COVID-19 vaccine, activists warn

Experts say at least 5 shots under development use squalene, a substance commercially produced from sharks; warn that it’s unsustainable, will endanger at-risk populations

Activists are warning that sharks could end up becoming indirect victims of the coronavirus pandemic, because at least five of the COVID-19 vaccines currently under development contain squalene, a natural component that is currently commercially manufactured from sharks.

Assuming one of those vaccines ends up being produced globally and every person on the planet receives two doses, more than half a million sharks would be killed, according to Shark Allies, a California-based advocacy group.

That would potentially endanger vulnerable shark populations, the group said, urging further research into manufacturing squalene from plants such as fermented sugarcane.

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Squalene is a component of some adjuvants that are added to vaccines to enhance the immune response, according to the World Health Organization. It is a component in a flu vaccine and several experimental vaccines, including for malaria, the WHO has said.

“Harvesting something from a wild animal is never…

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