science

Pythons from Florida Everglades could help produce COVID shots, researcher says


A researcher and python hunter by the name of ‘The Wildman’ have joined forces to explore what they believe could be used to fight the coronavirus – and it is hiding in the Florida Everglades.

Python hunter Dustin Crum and Daryl Thompson, a researcher, and entrepreneur with Global Research and Discovery Group out of Winter Haven, are looking to the invasive Burmese python to use its squalene, which stimulates a stronger immune response when added to vaccines.

Squalene is a naturally occurring oil-like substance found in nature and is commercially extracted from fish oil, particularly from shark liver.

However, extracting it from sharks has become a controversial topic among animal activists, but the Burmese python is wreaking havoc on the Everglades and wildlife officials are looking to remove the creature.

Crum also notes that one 10-foot snake has enough to make about 3,500 vaccine doses.

Although the World Health Organization deems squalene safe for vaccines, it is not on the Food and Drug Administration’s list of ingredients in the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

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The invasive Burmese python that contains squalene, which is a compound used in vaccines that stimulates a stronger immune response. It is is a naturally occurring oil-like substance found in nature and is commercially extracted from fish oil

The invasive Burmese python that contains squalene, which is a compound used in vaccines that stimulates a stronger immune response. It is is a naturally occurring oil-like substance found in nature and is commercially extracted from fish oil

Squalene was first used in 1997 when 10mg was added to create an influenza vaccine and since then, ‘twenty two million doses of Chiron’s influenza vaccine (FLUAD) have been administered safely,’ according to WHO.

However, a spokesperson from Pfizer released a statement saying,  ‘there is no human or animal products of any sort’ in the drug,’ which suggests the company’s coronavirus vaccine does not contain squalene.

The idea of using the compound for in COVID-19 vaccines has become more popular since the pandemic took hold of the world last year, but the main source would sharks – and animal activists are not keen on the idea.

Stefanie Brendl, founder and executive director of Shark Allies, said: ‘Harvesting something from a wild animal is never going to be sustainable, especially if it’s a top predator that doesn’t reproduce in huge numbers. 

Although the World Health Organization deems squalene safe for vaccines, it is not on the Food and Drug Administration's list of ingredients in the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines

Although the World Health Organization deems squalene safe for vaccines, it is not on the Food and Drug Administration’s list of ingredients in the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines

‘There are so many unknowns of how big and how long this pandemic might go on, and then how many versions of it we have to go through, that if we continue using sharks, the numbers of sharks taken for this product could be really high, year after year after year.’

In a Facebook post, she added: ‘We are not trying to slow down or hinder the production of a vaccine.

‘We simply ask that testing of non-animal derived squalene is conducted alongside shark squalene so it can be replaced as soon as possible.

And this is why Crum and Thompson are exploring python snakes as an alternative source.

Python hunter Dustin Crum and Daryl Thompson, a researcher, and entrepreneur with Global Research and Discovery Group out of Winter Haven, say one 10-foot snake has enough to make about 3,500 vaccine doses

Python hunter Dustin Crum and Daryl Thompson, a researcher, and entrepreneur with Global Research and Discovery Group out of Winter Haven, say one 10-foot snake has enough to make about 3,500 vaccine doses

There’s some really healing properties in the snake. If you go back in traditional medicine, they’ve been using python and python components for thousands of years, Crum told FOX13.

What is squalene? 

Squalene is a naturally occurring oil-like substance found in nature and is commercially extracted from fish oil, particularly from shark liver.

 It is also found in a variety of foods, cosmetics, over-the-counter medications and health supplements.

The compound was first used in an influenza vaccine in 1997.

It has since been added to 22 million since then. 

From his post in Winter Haven, Thompson said the research is being fast-tracked. They will present their findings through Operation Warp Speed to the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

‘By studying the metabolic effects, we are going to be able to look and determine a new way to make Squalene. We can create it out of oils or fats such as cholesterol,’ he said.

Another reason the pair choose pythons is because they are an invasive species that is taking over the Everglades, destroying the area and killing animals native to Florida.

‘We are taking a bad situation and making something good out of it. This has the potential to help heal a lot of people and potentially save a lot of lives,’ said Crum.

Some scientists and the public are not sold on the concept of adding squalene to vaccines.

According to WHO: ‘A few people have tried to link the health problems of Gulf War veterans to the possible presence of squalene in the vaccines these soldiers received.’

The agency continues to explain that it is now known that the compound was not added to the vaccines given to veterans and the confusion was due to ‘technical deficiencies in the report.’ 



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