Several companies in the race for a coronavirus vaccine have stumbled upon a new and unexpected hurdle: activists protesting the use of a substance that comes from sharks in their products.
The oily compound, called squalene, is churned out by shark livers and has immunity-boosting powers, which has led several companies to use it as an ingredient in vaccines. A group called Shark Allies has mounted a campaign calling on the Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory bodies to halt the sourcing of the compound from sharks, warning that mass distribution of a coronavirus vaccine could require harvesting tissue from more than 500,000 sharks.
The call to action made headlines around the globe. But the story on shark squalene isn’t as clear-cut as it might at first seem.
Why are some people so upset about sharks and vaccines?
Companies commonly use squalene as a moisturizing additive in cosmetics and