The Coronavirus we have all come to know so well (COVID-19) is an infectious viral disease that is caused by the newly discovered Coronavirus. Keep in mind that there are many different Coronaviruses that exist and have been around for many years. The “19” represent 2019 – the year in which this virus first came about and started spreading like a wildfire.
The Coronavirus (COVID-19) has been the “talk of the town” for the past couple of months, from radio, television, news, and social media, especially after it suddenly presented itself and began sweeping the world off its feet. It has knocked economies, left many financially stranded, and claimed the lives of many too. And this is just the beginning, the aftereffects will be felt for an exceedingly long time.
BUT do you know what is happening behind the scenes of this virus, and the trials and tribulations of developing a vaccine for it?
You may want to make a cup of coffee and sit down for this article. I will share with you some of the latest development behind the controversy of the COVID19 vaccine – what you should know!
The Latest Vaccine Requirement
According to Sky News, researchers are planning on using a natural oil called Squalene to assist in the development and formulation of a vaccine for COVID19.
Let’s understand what Squalene is first before we dive into the problem
Squalene is a naturally occurring organic compound that all animals and plants, this includes land and sea, produce as biochemical immediate. Even humans produce Squalene, it is manufactured in our liver and circulates in the bloodstream and is found in our skin. The concentrations do, however, differ. Some animals and plants produce a higher concentration of Squalene compared to others.
Squalene is also known as omega 2 and has similar benefits and properties of omega 3.
Squalene is primarily sourced from shark liver oil; this is where its name originated from. Squalus is a genus of sharks.
The fatty molecule is highly versatile and can be found in the skin. According to dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, MD, she says: “It maintains skin’s moisture barrier and hydration and is also an antioxidant that has anti-aging properties for neutralizing environmental damage.” In a nutshell, it can mimic the skin’s natural oils and acts as an emollient and moisturiser. Continuous use has proven Squalene to be anti-aging – reducing fine lines and wrinkles and allowing for a more youthful appearance.
Why Squalene for Vaccines?
Squalene is a component of some adjuvants and when added to vaccines it helps enhance the body’s immune response (an adjuvant is an immunological or pharmacological agent that improves the immune response of a vaccine). For this reason, British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline uses Squalene in their flu vaccines (this is Squalene that is obtained from the liver of sharks). They add it to vaccines to help produce more antibodies and longer -lasting immunity.
Twenty-two million doses of Chiron’s influenza vaccine or FLUAD has been administered since 1997. 10mg of Squalene is found in each dose and while no severe side-effects have been recorded, some mild local reactogenicity has been noticed.
The benefits of Squalene include:
- It is an anti-cancer compound
- It has anti-radioactive properties
- Helps maintain cholesterol levels because it is a polyunsaturated fatty acid and helps the body absorb cholesterol. It can also be converted into HDL or “good” cholesterol.
- Helps absorb vitamins
- It has anti-inflammatory properties and ease a variety of inflammatory skin conditions
- It has antioxidant properties and can help fight against damaging free radicals and carcinogens in the body. It also offers anti-aging properties.
- New research has shown that is a detoxifier
- It is a natural antibiotic and can help fight bacterial infections and help reduce the severity of the flu.
- Regulates the body’s immune response
- Squalene can help generate oxygen in the body which offers a purifying effect on the blood. Having more oxygen in your body can increase your metabolism. It is also an anti-coagulant and helps break down blood clots.
- Good for the skin as an emollient and moisturizer
- It is a natural antihistamine
Why Are Some People Against the Use of Squalene?
Many people are investigating the possible link between the health problems experienced by Gulf War veterans and the presence of the Squalene compound found in the vaccines these soldiers received.
One published report suggested that some of the soldiers who received a vaccine containing anthrax developed antibodies against squalene and these antibodies caused disabilities in the veteran soldiers. With this said, this theory was later thrown out and research pointed out that Squalene was not administered to those soldiers. The hype around these theories is what has raised alarm bells in many people.
And while various links are still being explored, the main reason people are against Squalene is because it is harvested from the livers of sharks.
Three species of shark are targeted, including the deep-sea shark, the dogfish, and the basking shark. And while other deep-sea sharks are not sustainable or bred in captivity, like the great white shark, it does mean that they are off the list for squalene harvesting.
Let’s be blunt – sharks are being killed just for this oil so this is the biggest problem we should have against using shark liver oil or Squalene from sharks.
In order to produce a Coronavirus vaccine, approximately 1 billion doses will be needed. That means that over 250,000 sharks will need to be killed to produce that much Squalene.
We should not be against the use of Squalene, but rather against the source researchers and commercial industries are turning to in which to harvest the Squalene oil.
Shark Allies executive director and founder, Stefanie Brendl had this to say to the Tech Times:
“harvesting something from a wild animal is never going to be sustainable.”
We could not agree more!
She shared this statement:
“We are in no way trying to hinder or slow down the development of a COVID-19 vaccine or any other critical treatment that is needed to protect humanity from illness. However, we are asking that sustainably sourced Squalene is used in all non-critical applications and where the alternative is just as effective as shark Squalene, and that all future testing of adjuvanted vaccines is giving plant-derived sources equal consideration.”
How Do We Avoid an Immense Ecological Cost?
If scientists, researchers, and pharmaceutical companies push forward with using Squalene from sharks for the Coronavirus vaccine then we will incur an immense ecological cost and many shark species will become highly endangered and could possibly be eliminated altogether.
We must get ahead of the problem as quickly as possible because there are many years ahead of us of global vaccine production and for further Coronavirus vaccine strains to be developed. Sharks will not survive this demand, especially since they reproduce in low numbers and are slow to mature.
Sharks are vital to ocean life and its Eco cycle and are a key element in the life systems that affect the overall health of the ocean. The ocean needs sharks, and we need the ocean!
So, how do we avoid this detrimental cycle?
We turn to plants and away from our precious wild animals!
A team of researchers in Poland have been working on a viable plant-based Squalene alternative since 2013. This is what they have reported and shared with EcoWatch.com:
“in the interest of protecting biodiversity, raw materials of animal origin must be replaced by alternative sources that respect our environment.”
This brings us to OLIVES…
Plant-Based Alternatives – The Olive Tree
In nature, the highest levels of plant-based Squalene can be found in olives, wheat germ, and rice bran. Here is the great news – the Squalene found in olive trees is equally as good as the Squalene taken from the livers of sharks! In fact, the molecular structure of Squalene in olives is identical to the molecular structure of Squalene in sharks.
Squalene is found in high amounts in Virgin Olive Oils- this ranges from 0.8 to 13 g/Kg. The concentration depends on the following factors:
- Olive cultivar
- Oil extraction technology
- The level of refining
Extra-Virgin Olive Oil is the fresh juice of the olive fruit (it is not a refined oil) and provides a significantly higher concentration of Squalene compared to refined seed and olive oils.
In Virgin Olive Oils Squalene is the major hydrocarbon present and accounts for more than 90% of the total hydrocarbon content of the olive oil. Olive oils contain up to 300-fold more Squalene when compared to other vegetable oils and up to 5,000-fold more than certain vegetables foods; this makes it an equally rich source of Squalene and what researchers should be turning their heads towards for the COVID19 vaccine.
The Olive Alternative for COVID19
The Squalene found in olives is the best alternative to killing and harvesting thousands of sharks for the Squalene found in their livers. The molecular structure is identical between the two sources and they offer exactly the same benefits.
Researchers should be turning to the plant-based alternative of olives for the COVID19 vaccine to sustain the ocean and to save the lives of sharks that could become endangered or entire species of sharks could be wiped off the planet. It is not sustainable to turn to sharks for a global vaccine. The demand is far too high and if two doses were allocated to each person within a year or two, then more than half a million sharks will lose their lives. And please bear in mind, there are other vaccines “requiring” Squalene too.
Let’s save the sharks, one olive tree at a time!
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Until Next Time