Sharks could be mass casualties of Covid-19

By Ana Mengotti

Miami, Sep 30 (efe-epa).- Sharks could be the next mass victims of the pandemic as squalene, a substance found in the animals’ liver oil, is used to make vaccines.

Millions of tons of this substance will be needed to manufacture any vaccines that are developed against Covid-19.

Between 2,500 and 3,000 sharks need to be killed to obtain one ton of squalene.

Stefanie Brendl, director of Shark Allies, said her organization has investigated the issue and warned there is a risk to millions of sharks.

She fears that if the need for squalene in vaccinations increases, populations of this marine predator could be decimated year by year and the species could even disappear.

“Just as we did something to prevent sharks from being caught just for their fins we have to do something about squalene,” Brendl said.

Brendl, who has been dedicated to shark conservation for two decades, told Efe she is not calling for an end to developing vaccines but that there are other sources to obtain squalene.

Around the world, 34 Covid-19 vaccine projects have reached clinical testing phases and 142 in earlier stages of development, according to the World Health Organization.

A total of 17 of them use adjuvants, five contain shark squalene and the others are unknown, according to Shark Allies.

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