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Coronavirus vaccine that relies on shark livers could kill half a million sharks

A possible COVID-19 vaccine relies on shark livers, and conservationists are warning it could decimate the shark population.

A British pharmaceutical company called GlaxoSmithKline currently manufactures a flu vaccine, which includes shark squalene, which is a natural oil produced in the liver. It’s known to create a strong response from the recipient’s immune system.

The company plans to produce a billion doses of a coronavirus vaccine, which would include shark squalene.




An environmental group called Shark Allies, claims a quarter-of-a-million sharks would have to be killed to produce the necessary amount of squalene for one dose per person. If 2 doses are required — which may well be the case — we’re talking half a million sharks that would be killed.

Squalene is a coveted ingredient in cosmetics and machine oil. Estimates are that 3 million sharks are killed every year for squalene.