- According to conservationists and wildlife experts, the plan to vaccinate the global population against COVID-19 will have a devastating environmental impact, as the vaccine adjuvant squalene is made from shark liver oil
- To satisfy a global supply of squalene-containing COVID-19 vaccines, an estimated half-million sharks would have to be slaughtered. The added demand could push certain shark species to the brink of extinction
- Shark Allies has launched a Change.org petition calling for a ban on shark-derived squalene in COVID-19 vaccines, noting sustainable botanical sources are available
- A 2001 meta-analysis found squalene-containing seasonal influenza vaccine had a riskier safety profile than nonadjuvanted flu vaccine, and squalene-containing H1N1 vaccines distributed in Europe during the 2009 swine flu pandemic were found to cause narcolepsy
- While evidence is scarce, some studies have highlighted the possibility of squalene inducing autoimmune problems such as arthritis and lupus when injected
According to conservationists and wildlife experts, the plan to vaccinate the global population against COVID-19 will have a devastating environmental impact, as one of the vaccine ingredients, squalene, is made from shark liver oil.
To satisfy a global supply of squalene-containing vaccines, an estimated half-million sharks would have to be slaughtered. At present, five COVID-19 vaccine candidates are using squalene as an adjuvant to boost the immune response to the vaccine and elicit higher antibody titers.1,2,3
Added to the more than 3 million sharks already killed for their livers each year, the added demand could push certain shark species, such as gulper and basking sharks that are particularly rich in squalene, to the brink of extinction.4 According to the New Zealand Herald:5
“British pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline uses shark squalene in its adjuvant, which is used in flu vaccines. In May, GSK said it would manufacture a billion doses of the adjuvant for potential use in COVID-19 vaccines.
About 3,000 sharks are required to make 1 ton of squalene. Estimates from California-based group Shark Allies suggest that immunizing everyone in the world with one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine containing squalene would require about 250,000 sharks, depending on the quantities used. This doubles to half a million if two doses are required, as researchers say is likely.”
Conservationists Call for Ban on Shark-Derived Squalene
The conservationist group Shark Allies6 has launched a Change.org petition7 calling for a ban on shark-derived squalene in COVID-19 vaccines. As noted in the petition, which is addressed to several regulatory agencies around the world, including the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the British Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency, the European Medicines Agency and the National Medical Products Administration in China, as well as all vaccine makers:8
“The supply chain has never been tested at the scale that a coronavirus vaccine would demand. There is also very little quality control and transparency in the shark squalene industry. In a nutshell, exploiting sharks for a key vaccine ingredient that can be derived from more sustainable and reliable non-animal alternatives is a detrimental and destructive approach.”
Shark Allies points out that shark liver squalene has no “magical” properties that cannot be replaced by other, more sustainable botanical sources such as yeast, algae, olive oil, palm oil, amaranth oil and wheat germ oil.9,10
At least one company has developed a synthetic version of the adjuvant,11,12 made from fermented sugar cane rather than shark liver, but while that would safeguard sharks, it opens yet other questions surrounding safety.
No synthetic squalene is currently approved for use in vaccines, but the Silicon Valley company Amryis, which has been producing synthetic squalene for the cosmetics industry, is now trying to get the product approved by the FDA for use in vaccines, and it’s already in negotiations with three vaccine makers.13
What Is Squalene?
Squalene, a hydrocarbon oil, is used as an adjuvant in some vaccines. One commonly used squalene-based adjuvant, MF59, is an emulsion formulated with squalene, polysorbate 80, sorbitan trioleate, trisodium citrate dehydrate, citric acid monohydrate and water.14 As noted in a 2014 paper,15 “The individual components of the MF59 adjuvant are not immunostimulatory, but the emulsion is.”
The purpose of a vaccine adjuvant is to enhance (turbo charge) your immune response to the vaccine. Adjuvants cause your immune system to overreact to the introduction of the organism you’re being vaccinated against. As noted in the 2014 paper, “MF59 as a Vaccine Adjuvant: A Review of Safety and Immunogenicity”:16
“Its mechanism of action is not fully understood, but enhancement of the interaction between the antigen and the dendritic cell seems to be involved. When used with seasonal influenza vaccines, an increase occurs in the hemagglutination inhibition antibody titers against some, but not all, seasonal vaccine influenza strains …
Data suggest that MF59 exerts it immunostimulatory effect by engaging the muscle fibers and mononuclear cells to produce a local environment that is conducive to the attraction of effector cells and differentiation of monocytes to DCs [dendritic cells].”
Squalene-Based Flu Vaccines Linked to Narcolepsy
As reported in “Coronavirus Vaccine Will Bypass Safety Testing,” squalene-containing H1N1 vaccines distributed in Europe during the 2009 swine flu pandemic were found to cause narcolepsy, a very rare and disabling neurological disorder characterized by excessive daytime sleepiness.
About 70% of narcolepsy cases also involve cataplexy17 — the sudden loss of voluntary muscle control — along with vivid hallucinations and total paralysis at the beginning or end of the narcoleptic attack.
One of the H1N1 vaccines causatively linked to narcolepsy was GlaxoSmithKline’s Pandemrix vaccine, which was licensed by European government regulators and sold in a number of European countries (but not in the U.S.). The Pandemrix package insert18 actually stated that “somnolence,” although not narcolepsy per se, was a known potential side effect of the vaccine.
Thanks to the public pushback instigated by the National Vaccine Information Center (NVIC), which opposed the fast-tracked licensure of squalene adjuvants in swine flu vaccines under the Emergency Use Authorization Act, none of the H1N1 vaccines distributed in the U.S. contained squalene.
The danger with allowing questionable vaccine ingredients to be used in emergency vaccines is that once it’s been used in one vaccine, vaccine makers can then use it in other vaccines without having to go through the rigorous approval process that would normally be required.
A squalene-containing vaccine for the U.S. market ended up being approved19 in 2013, though, during the H5N1 bird flu pandemic. It was the first adjuvanted influenza vaccine approved for the U.S. market, and it used the same problematic squalene adjuvant that was widely used in other countries during the 2009 swine flu pandemic.
Potential Safety Problems
In 2002, researchers found20 military personnel exhibiting symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome had antibodies to squalene, sparking concerns that the mysterious condition might be caused by squalene-containing anthrax vaccine.
An investigation revealed the problem was indeed limited to a specific batch of anthrax vaccine, one that contained squalene adjuvant, but subsequent investigators downplayed the link, as low titers of antisqualene antibodies were also detected in the blood of healthy individuals, and the titer levels didn’t change after they were injected with a squalene-adjuvanted vaccine.21
Other studies raising questions about squalene-adjuvanted vaccines include a 2001 meta-analysis22,23 of 20 clinical trials, which found MF59-adjuvanted seasonal influenza vaccine (Fluad) had a riskier safety profile than nonadjuvanted flu vaccine.
Over the course of three years, 1% to 8% of seniors who received MF59-adjuvanted seasonal influenza vaccine experienced systemic adverse events, compared to zero to 7% in the nonadjuvanted flu vaccine group. “MF59 as a Vaccine Adjuvant: A Review of Safety and Immunogenicity” also notes that:24
“In 2009, Pellegrini et al. published an analysis that encompassed the aforementioned 20 trials in addition to 44 other trials. These were heterogeneously designed trials in terms of age group (infant to elderly), study design (controlled and uncontrolled), duration of observation (3 weeks to >12 months) and the antigen used (pandemic or interpandemic influenza).
These trials included 20,749 subjects who received at least one dose of MF59-adjuvanted vaccine, and 7,526 subjects who received nonadjuvanted influenza vaccine.
Subjects who received MF59-adjuvanted vaccine were more likely to develop local reactions such as pain, erythema, induration and warmth (risk ratio [RR] of 1.71), and systemic reactions including myalgia, fatigue, headaches and malaise (RR: 1.33) in the first 3 days post-vaccination, when compared to those who received nonadjuvanted vaccines.”
Squalene Linked to Autoimmunity
While evidence is scarce, some studies have highlighted the possibility of squalene causing autoimmune problems such as arthritis and lupus when injected. As noted in one 2004 study:25
“Adjuvant oils such as … squalene (MF59) have been used in human and veterinary vaccines despite poor understanding of their mechanisms of action. Several reports suggest an association of vaccination and various autoimmune diseases, however, few were confirmed epidemiologically …
We have reported that a single intraperitoneal injection of the adjuvant … squalene induces lupus-related autoantibodies to nRNP/Sm and -Su in non-autoimmune BALB/c mice.
Induction of these autoantibodies appeared to be associated with the hydrocarbon’s ability to induce IL-12, IL-6, and TNF-α, suggesting a relationship with hydrocarbon’s adjuvanticity. Whether this is relevant in human vaccination is a difficult issue due to the complex effects of vaccines and the fact that immunotoxicological effects vary depending on species, route, dose, and duration of administration.
Nevertheless, the potential of adjuvant hydrocarbon oils to induce autoimmunity has implications in the use of oil adjuvants in human and veterinary vaccines as well as basic research.”
Squalene Linked to Rheumatoid Arthritis
Similarly, a 2000 study26 published in the American Journal of Pathology demonstrated a single injection of squalene into rats triggered “chronic, immune-mediated joint-specific inflammation,” i.e. rheumatoid arthritis. The researchers concluded their findings raise questions about the role of adjuvants in chronic inflammatory diseases.
A more recent study,27 published in 2017, also reported that hydrocarbon oils such as squalene induce and enhance arthritis in genetically susceptible rats. Injecting hydrocarbon oil adjuvants also resulted in:
- The activation, proliferation and elevated expression of Th1 and Th17 cytokines by T cells “which correlate with the arthritogenicity of the T cells”
- Increased production of autoantibodies against cartilage joint specific, type II collagen epitopes
According to the authors:
“This study shows the arthritogenicity of hydrocarbon oils is associated with their adjuvant properties with implications to not only arthritis research but also other diseases and medical applications such as vaccines in which oil adjuvants are involved …
Within 1 hour after injection, the injected adjuvants spread rapidly and reached different organs with high selectivity for lymph nodes and rather few oil droplets were distributed to joints.
At the lymph nodes, oil adjuvants lead to both local and systemic reaction including hyperplasia and an increased level of acute phase protein such as α1-acid glycoprotein (AGP) in the blood … We showed that … T cells in vivo primed with … adjuvants such as hexadecane and squalene can also transfer arthritis.”
Your Genetic Profile May Predispose You to Squalene Damage
The authors of that 2017 study28 also address the issue of squalene adjuvants in vaccines, specifically, noting the use of vaccine adjuvants has been “associated with the elevated production of cytokines such as IFN-γ and IL-17.”
The challenge vaccine makers face is to maximize immunogenicity (the ability to provoke an immune response) while minimizing reactogenicity (the unwanted property of creating adverse reactions, especially immunological responses) “and the risk of developing any ‘adjuvant-induced’ autoimmune or chronic degenerative disorders, such as narcolepsy or Gulf War syndrome,” the researchers note. They also point out that:
“It is known that oil adjuvants induce tissue damage and cell death at the injection site leading to the production of damage-associated-molecular patterns (DAMPs) and inflammasome activation. Here we demonstrated that different adjuvants exert different extent of boosting effect on antigen-specific recall response and antibody production.
The fact that adjuvants induce arthritis only in genetically susceptible strains and autoimmune disorders occurring only in genetically susceptible individuals shows adjuvant induction of autoimmune diseases is partly determined by genetic factors.
In future, it will be beneficial to investigate if these genetic factors, some of which have been identified by animal studies in our group, also determine whether particular individuals with certain genetic profiles carry a higher risk of developing any adverse reactions upon adjuvant-based vaccination.”
Returning to where we started, with the issue of half a million sharks being culled for their liver oil now that several COVID-19 vaccine candidates are using squalene adjuvant, let’s hope an alternative is made available to prevent this massacre.
However, let’s not confuse this with the notion that botanical squalene might be safer. While it would be noble to safeguard our shark stocks, switching to a botanical source of squalene adjuvant is unlikely to result in a safer vaccine.
Despite the mainstream narrative that the vaccine will save us from devastation, nothing could be further from the truth. The purpose of a vaccine is to catalyze your immune system to produce a protective response. The problem with the Warp Speed produced vaccine, with virtually all the safety stops removed, is that the risks far outweigh any benefits.
This is particularly true in light of the many well researched ways to improve immune function by improving your metabolic health using simple strategies like time-restricted eating and avoiding all industrially processed seed oils, both of which will decrease insulin resistance and upregulate your immune response.
Vitamin D is another powerful synergistic therapy that will reduce your risk for COVID-19 far greater than any unproven vaccine that is a ticking time bomb with its squalene adjuvant and accelerated production schedule that eliminates years of important safety testing.
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