The COVID-19 vaccine is morally acceptable, says Vatican

Chelsey Cox
Miriam Fauzia



The allegation: Pope Francis approves the COVID-19 vaccine developed with aborted fetal tissue for Catholics

The leader of the Catholic Church supports the vaccination against COVID-19 for Catholics, despite possible ties to aborted fetal cells, according to a Facebook claim.

“CAN YOU BELIEVE IT !!!!!!!” begins a December 22 post by user Oscar El Blue, owner of the YouTube channel Border Network News.

Blue refers to a screenshot of an article from the Agence France-Presse entitled “Vatican said a COVID-19 vaccine is ‘morally acceptable’.”

“The Vatican has issued a statement saying it is OK to get virus vaccines through abortion sic lines. It was approved today by globalist Pope Francis,” Blue wrote in the caption.

The Vatican asked Catholics to get the vaccine, saying, “It is morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines of aborted fetuses in their research and production process,” according to the article.

A December 21 post by another user makes claims similar to those of El Blue.

The report contains a snapshot from the top of an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Vatican allows use of COVID-19 vaccines linked to abortion.” The caption contains a brief summary of the first sentence of the article – where the moral acceptability of the vaccine is mentioned – without additional context.

USA TODAY released the posters for comment.

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Did the Pope approve COVID-19 vaccines associated with aborted fetal cells?

On December 21, the Vatican News reported that Pope Francis had approved a congressional statement on the Vatican’s doctrine of faith regarding the morality of the vaccines Pfizer and Modern COVID-19.

“In the absence of other means to stop or even prevent the epidemic, general welfare may recommend vaccination, especially to protect the weakest and most vulnerable people,” the Dec. 21 statement said.

The CDR has advised that those who for moral reasons refuse vaccines produced ‘with lines of aborted fetuses’ should take the necessary precautions to prevent COVID-19 transmission.

But the statement also covers reservations that are not addressed in the claim, such as when vaccines used with aborted fetal cells should be used.

“When ethically unshakable Covid-19 vaccines are not available, it is ‘morally acceptable to receive Covid-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process,'” The Vatican News reported.

The pope did not offer carte blanche approval of COVID-19 vaccines that use aborted fetal cells during development, as suggested in the claim.

El Blue updated his Facebook message with a direct link to the CDR statement after USA reached out to him TODAY on December 23rd.

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But are there COVID-19 vaccines made with aborted fetal cells?

The use of cells derived from fetal tissue in clinical research dates back to the 1960s when dr. Leonard Hayflick, a scientist at the Wistar Institute in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, created WI-38 cells from an aborted four-month pregnancy fetus.

Since then, Hayflick’s cell line has been used to create a multitude of rubella, rabies, polio, measles, chickenpox and shingles vaccines. Fetal tissue has also been used to study HIV / Aids, congenital disorders, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease, among others, an application that has provoked heated social and political debate in the USA.

As for the COVID-19 vaccines, at least five candidates undergoing clinical trials use fetal derivative cell lines: China’s CanSino Biologics, University of Oxford, with AstraZeneca, Janssen (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson), the University of Pittsburgh and ImmunityBio in California.

HEK-293, used by four of the developers, is a kidney cell line derived from a fetus aborted in 1972. PER.C6 is an own cell line owned by Janssen and was created from the eye cells of an 18-week-old fetus that was aborted. in 1985, according to Science.

The vaccines CanSino, Oxford-AstraZeneca, Janssen and ImmunityBio use a virus called adenovirus that has been genetically modified to be harmless, but loaded with SARS-CoV-2’s genetic code for protein, which is necessary for viral entry into human cells. Similar to the action of Pfizer and Moderna’s messenger RNA vaccine by giving cells instructions on how to make anti-ear protein antibodies, the altered adenovirus produces the ear genetic sequence so that the body can make the antibodies itself.

However, the altered adenovirus cannot replicate on its own, and this is where the fetal-derived cell lines enter by providing their replication machinery and generating large amounts of virus.

It is important to note that PFizer or Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines do not contain cells derived from aborted fetal tissue, as the development of mRNA is a different technology. This was also confirmed by UAB News, the news website of the University of Alabama in Birmingham.

“Neither the Pfizer nor the Moderna vaccine use cell lines that originate in fetal tissue taken from the body of an aborted baby at any stage of design, development, or production,” Sheriff Blank of UAB reported.

The University of Pittsburg uses the HEK-293 cell line to construct the SARS-CoV-2 ear protein itself to stimulate an immune response once injected.

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Vatican citizens, employees will be vaccinated

Dr. Andrea Arcangeli, deputy director of the Vatican City Health and Hygiene Directorate, confirmed that Vatican City residents, employees and their families will receive the Pfizer vaccination from January, according to The Associated Press, the Catholic News Agency and the Catholics. News service.

“We believe it is very important that even in our small community, a vaccination campaign against the virus responsible for COVID-19 starts as soon as possible,” Arcangeli told Vatican News, according to the Catholic News Agency.

The ingredients in the Pfizer vaccine appear safe for people with moral reservations, according to a Dec. 11 letter the company sent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The only active ingredient is nucleoside-modified messenger RNA, or modRNA, which encodes SARS-CoV-2’s viral vein protein, USA TODAY reports. The rest are fats, salts and sugar.

The Moderna vaccine is similar, except for a few additional components, such as vinegar and certain glycerol, according to an FDA fact sheet.

Pope Francis pleaded with world leaders during his annual Christmas Day speech to make the vaccine accessible to all, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“I plead with all the leaders of states, corporations and international organizations to promote cooperation and not competition, and to find a solution for everyone, vaccinations for everyone, especially the vulnerable and needy,” he said.

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Our rating: Missing context

We judge this claim to be a DISGUSTABLE CONTEXT, based on our research. An allegation that the pope approved COVID-19 vaccines using abortion lines in his research ignores an official statement from the Vatican. The statement endorses vaccines that use aborted fetal cells during research and development as an alternative are not accessible. Vatican citizens, employees and their families will receive the Pfizer vaccine next year.

Our sources for fact checking:

  • USA TODAY, December 12, “‘There is nothing too surprising’: Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine ingredients are fairly standard, experts say”
  • Catholic News Agency, December 15, “Vatican City begins coronavirus vaccinations in January”
  • Catholic News Service, December 11, “Vatican offers employees Pfizer vaccine against COVID-19”
  • UAB News, December 21, “Denies myths about COVID-19 vaccine”
  • US Food and Drug Administration, December 11, “Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine EUA Authorization Letter”
  • Vatican News, December 21, “Vatican CDF says the use of vaccines against covides is morally acceptable”
  • Oscar El Blue, accessed “Border Network News” on December 23
  • Holy See Press Office, 21 December, “Memorandum from the congregation for the doctrine of faith regarding the morality of the use of some anti-Covid-19 vaccines, 21.12.2020”
  • Nature, 26 June 2013, “Medical research: cell division”
  • Guttmacher Policy Review, February 9, 2016, “Fetal Tissue Research: A Weapon and a Victim in the War on Abortion”
  • The New York Times accessed ‘Coronavirus vaccine detection’ on 24 December.
  • Science Magazine, June 5, “Opponents of abortion protest over use of COVID-19 vaccines”
  • Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, January 12, 2018, “mRNA Vaccines – A New Era in Vaccination”
  • Wall Street Journal, December 25: “Pope Francis, in Christmas Day speech, calls for equitable distribution of Covid-19 vaccines”

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Our fact-checking work is supported in part by a grant from Facebook.