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A ‘Fishy’ Affair!

As per the UN data, the COVID-19 Pandemic has, so far, claimed more than a million lives. However, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus – the Director General of World Health Organisation (WHO) – has claimed that the actual figure is much higher! According to the WHO chief, more than 34.2 million people have been infected by the Corona Virus worldwide! In such a scenario, attempts are being made to create vaccines at an alarming speed… it has been termed fast-track research. Perhaps, nearly half a million sharks may have to die because of this! A Marine Wildlife Conservation Organisation has expressed serious concern over this particular issue. In a Press Release, the Organisation has said that experiments are being carried out in different parts of the world to save human lives in such a manner, it might claim the lives of at least 500,000 sharks

Most of the vaccines require an Adjuvant, a pharmacological or immunological agent that improves the immune response of a vaccine. They may be added to a vaccine in order to boost the immune response, as well as to produce more antibodies and longer-lasting immunity, thus, minimising the dose of antigen much needed here. These Adjuvants are easily available in the livers of sharks. Hence, it has become necessary to cull sharks en masse in order to produce vaccines in a large scale! Hence, millions of sharks will have to die in exchange for human lives…

Different adjuvants are used in all vaccines… e.g., Squalene – commercially extracted from fish oil, and in particular shark liver oil – is one such adjuvant or pharmaceutical product that is used in vaccine against influenza. It is also being used to make an antidote to the COVID-19 virus. Squalene can be found in the livers of several other animals, other than sharks. However, it is extracted from shark liver oil in most cases. The Marine Wildlife Conservation Organisation has claimed that at least 21,000 sharks would be killed to produce the vaccine needed for the US alone! As Squalene is also available in plants, the Organisation has urged the researchers to extract the said oil from trees, instead of culling the sharks.

Meanwhile, WHO is hopeful that some companies would invent the vaccine for COVID-19 in 2021. GlaxoSmithKline, a British multinational pharmaceutical company headquartered in Brentford, England, has hinted that it would come out with the COVID-19 vaccine next year. However, the US Government has requested the researchers to do the needful by November 2020, as the Corona Virus has claimed the maximum number of lives in the country. With the Americans blaming their Government for its casual approach to tackle the crisis, President Donald Trump has put the researchers under tremendous pressure, keeping in mind that he would have to face the Elections in November! The President, it seems, would like the vaccine to arrive in the market ahead of the Polls. According to sources close to the White House, the US Government may allow Russia and China to supply vaccines, under trial, to the US! The American pharmaceutical companies have already objected to this proposed move, saying that they would be able to manufacture vaccines by November 25, 2020, although it would not be possible to complete the trial ahead of the Presidential Polls…

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