How Horseshoe Crabs Play into the COVID-19 Pandemic
Horseshoe crabs are a familiar sight on Jersey shore beaches, especially in South Jersey. But, what to they have to do with coronavirus?
Well, scientists are reportedly studying horseshoe crabs in the race to find a vaccine to treat COVID-19. Apparently, the blood of this prehistoric species has a particular sensitivity to a kind of bad bacteria that can form in vaccines and other medicines administered by injection, according to 6abc.com. Pretty interesting!
So, if horseshoe crabs end up being a factor in protecting humans from contracting and spreading coronavirus, what does that mean for the creatures? Will they all just be scooped up and used for their blood, endangering the species?
A wildlife biologist named Dr. Larry Niles says that threat exists, since a small population of the horseshoe crabs being used in the medical experiments will die during or after their blood is extracted. And although Niles isn't challenging any pharmaceutical company's efforts related to the crabs factoring into a COVID-19 vaccine, he remarks there exists a synthetic blood alternative already being used by pharma companies in Europe.
David Wheeler, Executive Director of the Conserve Wildlife Foundation, tells 6abc.com that once blood is extracted from a horseshoe crab, up to 1/3 of its blood, they're supposed to be returned to where they were found. However, he says 'there's never been any real transparency' between wildlife conservationists and the pharma companies.
It's interesting timing, this story, since South Park just aired a 'Pandemic Special' episode of the animated series on Comedy Central, where a Pangolin possessed the cure for COVID. Wouldn't it be something if it all came down to a horseshoe crab from the Jersey shore?