January 14, 2010 Featured Article Read More →

Swine flu threatens sharks

The effects of the swine flu upon sharks is not a direct one – these animals are not finding themselves coming down with cases of H1N1 like humans and other land animals. However, they are being threatened in a grave way by the virus through the pharmaceutical process which requires a substance – Squalene – to make a key component in the H1N1 vaccine.

Squalene is being extracted from shark livers.

Alternatively, it could be obtained in small amounts from olive oil, wheat germ oil and rice bran oil.

Pharmaceutical companies like GlaxoSmithKline, which has been a major producer of the H1N1 vaccine, has refused to indicate the quantity of squalene harvested from sharks that they have used in their vaccines, but do admit it has been a source.

H1N1 vaccines containing squalene oil from the livers of sharks has only been approved to date for distribution in Canada and Europe.

The killing of sharks for human survival poses a great risk to the deep water sharks. Species like the gulper shark (considered by the pharmaceutical companies to be the best source of squalene) is already listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species since it is nearing extinction. These killings for squalene put these sharks at a greater risk since deep water species have low reproductive rates that further compromise their survival.

Squalene may be essential for the H1N1 vaccine, and since there’s still controversy regarding how necessary it really is for the prevention of the virus – should we be compromising the survival of another species ?

More here.

Posted in: Shark Bites
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