CAPE TOWN – The world’s largest maker of vaccines GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), says it is optimistic the industry will be able to make immunisation against Covid-19 widely available next year.
However, nature conservationists have raised concern over shark squalene being considered for use in Coronavirus vaccines.
A petition is currently circulating on Change.org. calling on the US Government to stop using sharks for Covid-19 vaccines.
According to reports researchers plan to use a natural oil called squalene made from shark liver oil to help develop the coronavirus vaccine.
On Tuesday at an online event of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) GSK CEO Emma Walmsley said: “I share the optimism that we will have solutions next year. The challenge here is getting to the scale that is required.”
Currently, GlaxoSmithKine (GSK) uses squalene in flu vaccines. The oil is used as an adjuvant in medicine, an ingredient that increases the effectiveness of a vaccine by creating a stronger immune response. GSK has announced that it would manufacture a billion doses of the adjuvant for potential use in coronavirus vaccines.
Meanwhile, it has been reported that Conservation group Shark Allies predicts that if the world’s population all received one dose of the vaccine, around 250,000 sharks would have to be slaughtered, depending on the amount of squalene used. Two doses for every person in the globe would amount to half a million sharks.
Stefanie Brendl, founder organisation said they are in no way trying to hinder or slow down the development of a Covid-19 vaccine.
“Moving society away from harmful practices requires awareness and a willingness to tackle a transition period. Profit margins may not look as favourable if taking wild animals is seen as cheaper and easier than other processes. Sourcing an ingredient from a wild animal is not a long-term solution,” she said.
GlaxoSmithKline has agreed on a deal with the European Commission to provide up to 300 million doses of their potential Covid-19 vaccine candidate.
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