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Coronavirus: Half a Million Sharks 'Could Be Killed for Vaccine', Experts Warn

Sharks produce squalene, a natural oil made in their livers, which is an ingredient in several COVID-19 vaccine candidates.

Half a million sharks could be killed for their natural oil to produce coronavirus vaccines, according to conservationists.

One ingredient used in some COVID-19 vaccine candidates is squalene, a natural oil made in the liver of sharks.

Squalene is currently used as an adjuvant in medicine - an ingredient that increases the effectiveness of a vaccine by creating a stronger immune response.

British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline currently uses shark squalene in flu vaccines.

The company said it would manufacture a billion doses of this adjuvant for potential use in coronavirus vaccines in May.

Around 3,000 sharks are needed to extract one tonne of squalene.   Shark Allies, a California-based group, suggests that if the world's population received one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine containing the liver oil, around 250,000 sharks would need to be slaughtered, depending on the amount of squalene used.