COVID-​19 Vaccines

USCCB State­ment: “In view of the grav­ity of the cur­rent pan­demic and the lack of avail­abil­ity of alter­na­tive vac­cines, the rea­sons to accept the new COVID-​19 vac­cines from Pfizer and Mod­erna are suf­fi­ciently seri­ous to jus­tify their use, despite their remote con­nec­tion to morally com­pro­mised cell lines.

Receiv­ing one of the COVID-​19 vac­cines ought to be under­stood as an act of char­ity toward the other mem­bers of our com­mu­nity. In this way, being vac­ci­nated safely against COVID-​19 should be con­sid­ered an act of love of our neigh­bor and part of our moral respon­si­bil­ity for the com­mon good.”

With regard to the AstraZeneca vac­cine, the bish­ops found it to be “more morally com­pro­mised” and con­se­quently con­cluded that this vac­cine “should be avoided” if there are alter­na­tives avail­able. “It may turn out, how­ever, that one does not really have a choice of vac­cine, at least, not with­out a lengthy delay in immu­niza­tion that may have seri­ous con­se­quences for one’s health and the health of oth­ers,” the bishop chair­men stated. “In such a case … it would be per­mis­si­ble to accept the AstraZeneca vaccine.”

While some phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal com­pa­nies have been work­ing on a vac­cine for COVID-​19 with­out using morally com­pro­mised cell lines at all, oth­ers have been using such cell lines in either the design and devel­op­ment phase or the pro­duc­tion phase or in both. Still oth­ers have been mak­ing use of a morally com­pro­mised cell line only for a con­fir­ma­tory test of the vaccine’s effi­cacy. This leads many peo­ple who are con­cerned for the sanc­tity of human life to ask if it is eth­i­cal to accept any of the vac­cines that have some con­nec­tion to abor­tion[1].

In 1972, a female child was aborted in the Nether­lands, and cells from her kid­neys were extracted and devel­oped into the cell line now known as “HEK293.” “HEK” stands for “Human Embry­onic Kid­ney.” Cells from the HEK293 line have been com­monly used in bio­logic research since the late 70s.

The vac­ci­na­tions pro­duced by Pfizer and Mod­erna did not use HEK293 in their design, devel­op­ment, or pro­duc­tion, but did use cells from the line in a con­fir­ma­tory test, said the bishops.

While nei­ther vac­cine is com­pletely free from any con­nec­tion to morally com­pro­mised cell lines, in this case the con­nec­tion is very remote from the ini­tial evil of the abor­tion,” said the bishops.

Con­versely, the vac­cine pro­duced by AstraZeneca “should be avoided if there are alter­na­tives avail­able,” said the bish­ops, as this vac­cine is “more morally compromised.”

The HEK293 cell line was used in the design, devel­op­ment, and pro­duc­tion stages of that vac­cine, as well as for con­fir­ma­tory test­ing,” said Rhoades and Nau­mann. The two com­pared the AstraZeneca vac­cine to the cur­rent rubella vac­cine, which also was reliant on “morally com­pro­mised cell lines.”[2]

So what does our Bishop say? I have it on good author­ity, from some­one deep within the Dioce­san Admin­is­tra­tion Offices (also known as St. Michael’s West) that the Bishop agrees with the state­ments above and has no posi­tion on the ques­tion of ask­ing his flock to get the vac­cine. He leaves that deci­sion up to us.

So how do the Pfizer and Mod­erna vac­cines work? They both use a novel and some­what new tech­nol­ogy called mRNA or mes­sen­ger RNA. Accord­ing to the CDC, mRNA mol­e­cules are injected into mus­cle tis­sue with some of the mRNA pass­ing through the local cell walls. There it does what its name sug­gests and it deliv­ers a “mes­sage” to pro­duce a protein.

Remem­ber all those images of the COVID-​19 virus that look like a ball with “spikes” ema­nat­ing from the sur­face? Well the ball sec­tion con­tains the COVID repli­ca­tion code and tricks the cell into mak­ing many copies of its self. This con­tin­ues until the cell is exhausted or pops. As the copies of the virus are being made, other sys­tems in the cell rec­og­nize they do not belong and they are ejected from the cell mem­brane. The “spikes” are a pro­tein which is the mech­a­nism the virus uses to “open” the cell wall, pass by its nat­ural defenses, and “set up shop” to make more virus from within.

Back to the vac­cine; the mRNA from the vac­cine tells the cell to make a sec­tion of the COVID-​19 spike pro­tein, or the com­plete spike pro­tein (depend­ing on who’s vac­cine you get). The cell rec­og­nizes the pro­teins do not belong and ejects them; this stim­u­lates the immune sys­tem to rec­og­nize the spikes and there­fore the whole COVID-​19 virus. The immune sys­tem fol­lows by gen­er­at­ing anti­bod­ies to destroy the COVID-​19 virus. The mRNA from the shot has a very short life and poses no dan­ger to the body, it soon dis­solves away. It should be noted that the mRNA never pen­e­trates the nucleus and never comes in con­tact with the DNA of the cell.

Although sci­en­tists have been research­ing mRNA vac­cines in gen­eral for the last 10 years or so, this is the 1st actual appli­ca­tion of this cat­e­gory of vac­cines in human population.

Now that’s a lot to pray and think about!

[1] MORAL CON­SID­ER­A­TIONS REGARD­ING THE NEW COVID-​19 VAC­CINESUSCCB

[2] US bish­ops approve use of coro­n­avirus vac­cines with ‘remote con­nec­tion’ to abor­tion — CNA Staff, Dec 14, 2020