Life Statement on Covid-19 Vaccine

In recent weeks Life has been contacted by several people asking about our position on Covid-19 vaccines. This statement clarifies our position on these vaccines.

The need for everyone to seriously consider being vaccinated against Covid-19

  • Saving lives has always been at the heart of everything we do at Life. We therefore encourage everyone to seriously consider being vaccinated against Covid-19 when that becomes possible.
  • As a charity our mission is also to speak up for the protection of human life. Although there is some degree of uncertainty about this, we hope that the vaccinations against Covid-19 will stop its transmission from person to person.

General safety of the vaccines

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has been thorough in its assessment of all the vaccines presented for approval. We have no reason to believe that those vaccines which have so far been approved for use in the UK are not safe.

Recently there have been reports of a very rare condition involving blood clots and unusual bleeding after vaccination with the Astra Zeneca Vaccine. This is being carefully reviewed but the risk factors for this condition are not yet clear. Although this condition remains extremely rare there appears to be a higher risk in people shortly
after the first dose of the AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine. Around 4 people develop this condition for every
million doses of AZ vaccine doses given. This is seen slightly more often in younger people and tends to occur between 4 days and 2 weeks following vaccination. This condition can also occur naturally, and
clotting problems are a common complication of COVID-19 infection. An increased risk has not
yet been seen after other COVID-19 vaccines but is being carefully monitored. At the moment the Government says it will offer only the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines to under 30’s.

Public Health England has a useful table which you can click on HERE which sets out the risks and benefits of the vaccines.

Safety of the vaccines for pregnant women

  • The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) says it has not identified any safety concerns with pregnant women using the Covid-19 vaccines. It notes that around 90,000 pregnant women have been vaccinated, mainly with mRNA vaccines including Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, without any safety concerns being raised. The JCVI is therefore advising that it’s preferable for pregnant women in the UK to be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines where available. It however adds that there is no evidence to suggest that other vaccines are unsafe for pregnant women, but more research is needed.
  • Public Health England says the vaccines do not contain organisms that can multiply in the body, so they cannot infect an unborn baby in the womb.
  • Since research shows that there is an increased risk of preterm birth and caesarean delivery for pregnant women with Covid-19, we think pregnant women should seriously consider getting vaccinated against Covid-19.

Safety of the vaccines for breastfeeding women

There are no data on the safety of COVID-19 vaccines in breastfeeding or on the breastfed baby. However The Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisation is still advising breastfeeding women that the vaccines can be received because they are not “thought to be a risk” to the breastfeeding baby. This is also the position of the World Health Organisation.

We will continue to monitor this situation.

Ethical considerations in the development of vaccines

There has been a lot of debate and concern about the development of some vaccines for Covid-19 which use cell lines from aborted fetuses. The Charlotte Lozier Institute has produced a helpful information table which you can view by clicking here which shows the vaccines which have been developed internationally using fetal cell lines in some way and those that have not been associated with fetal cells at all. Of particular interest is the use of HEK-293 (Human Embryonic Kidney), a cell line derived from cells taken from the kidney of a baby aborted in 1973 (it is unclear whether this was a deliberate abortion or a spontaneous abortion e.g. a miscarriage).

The Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines which have been in the news recently do not contain fetal cells or fetal cell lines in them. However researchers did test these vaccines using the HEK-293 cell lines at what is called the confirmatory stage. This is unfortunate since these tests could have been avoided, as a similar vaccine, CureVac, did not use them. That said, Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna will not have to continue to use fetal cell lines in ongoing production, like some of their competitors.

The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has been the subject of controversy because of the use of HEK-293 cell lines in it’s development. We contacted the Covid-19 Vaccine Team at Oxford for clarification. They confirmed the use of HEK-293 cell lines which they described as cells cloned from original cells taken from the kidney of the aborted fetus. They pointed out that these are therefore not themselves, the cells of the aborted fetus. The team pointed us to this document, which explains that some vaccines are grown in cultures which contain human cells. The document states that after they are grown, the viruses are “purified several times to remove the cell culture material”. This makes it “unlikely that any human material remains in the final vaccine”. However we asked the vaccine team specifically if they could reassure us that the vaccines will not contain fetal cells or DNA from fetal cells. The team reassured us that:

  1. The Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine will not contain any fetal cells
  2. The vaccine will not contain the DNA of the fetal cell lines used.

The team explained why they were able to give this reassurance:

The specific cell line allows the growth of the viral vectored vaccine in the cell cytoplasm by providing a missing protein essential for virus replication which we removed from the virus itself. This is why, when the virus enters any other human cell except this cell line, it cannot replicate. The virus does not enter the nucleus or integrate or recombine in any way with the cell DNA both in the cell line or in vaccinees. – Dr Joanna Bagniewska, Covid-19 Vaccine Team (email communication on 3rd December 2020)

We thank the Covid-19 Vaccine Team at Oxford for their clarification.

Given all the facts above:

  • Life considers that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was unethically developed and we fully understand the objections of many people to this. We are very disappointed that the vaccine was not developed using the ethical methods chosen by some vaccine developers.
  • Given that the vaccine itself does not contain fetal cells or DNA from the aborted fetus, we will not object to its use by anyone if it is the only vaccine available to them in order for them to be protected and to protect others from Covid-19. We therefore believe this comes down to a matter of individual conscience.
  • We believe that a genuine choice of an ethically developed vaccine should be offered to people.

In conclusion, we are committed to saving lives and our position on this issue is guided by that principle. We encourage everyone to seriously consider being vaccinated against Covid-19.

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10 people are talking about Life Statement on Covid-19 Vaccine

  1. Tom says:

    Thank you for this. I was feeling very alone in this. I don't want to disuade others from having the vaccines, so haven't talked over my doubts, (about ethicality) with others. I'm a Christian, on the protestant spectrum, and am so grateful to my Catholic brothers and sisters for standing so consistently firmly and being a voice when my own branch of God's church so often seems quiet. I'm in the middle of writing to my medical centre and wanted a little more clarification about things. May our loving Father bless and uplift each of you, and give each of you wisdom and His peace in this storm. Thank you.

  2. FELICITY LESLIE says:

    Your article is interesting.
    It is the first time that I have seen any mention of the aborted baby ( HEK293) being a possible miscarriage. From all of the research that I have read, in numerous articles and sites abortion in the Netherlands was illegal until 1984 unless it was to save the mother's life. Abortion was deemed a " crime against decency". Therefore HEK 293 was a legal abortion.
    I am not saying or debating over whether this was the right thing to do but just to give some facts. I do not believe in abortion nor in using the cells or cell descendants.
    In the past year the awareness regarding a Vaccine for COVID has become widely known but are people must also be aware that cell descendants from PER C6 and others have been used in many other medical conditions to date eg Rubella ( in the MMR jab), chicken pox, hepatitus A, ebola, tb, polio, rabies, shingles, hemaphilia, rheumatoid arthritis, cystic fibrosis.
    As far as I can see Pfizer and BioNtech have used mRNA technology to produce synthetic vaccines. Basically software / chemicals on a computer, after receiving the Coronairus genome / Genetic sequence, from Chinese scientists on 10th January 2020, for others to use, share and analyze.

  3. Mrs Ann Hundley Chappell says:

    Regarding the nature of the 1973 abortion, don't you think they kept records then especially since the child was going to have its kidney extracted for science? Don't you think if it was a miscarriage the users of foetal cells would be espousing this truth? Appears they are throwing in doubt to deflect the sin.

  4. Mrs Ann Hundley Chappell says:

    I will not take the current vaccines. I prayed to God that an ethical one would be created. The CureVac may be an option. Meanwhile, the JP II Research Foundation is looking for an ethical option. To protect others I decided I would make the sacrifice of quarantining (equally effective as a vaccine in protecting others.) But leave it to God to have other plans! My whole family tested positive for COVID after Christmas. I am 65 and lost sense of smell and taste for a week and two older children were in bed a couple of days. Anyway God answered my prayers and we can avoid the vaccine and yet know we are not harming others. God is good.

  5. Jen says:

    Does anyone know if the vaccine being developed by valneva uses the hek 293 cell in its development ?

  6. Therese says:

    Mme. This makes sense but I agree with Sarah Bell. I really hope that the makers of vaccines work tirelessly to create a vaccine that we can be confident is not connected to abortion in any way and is 100% produced ethically.

  7. Therese says:

    Mme. This makes sense but I agree with Sarah Bell. I really hope that the makers of vaccines work tirelessly to create a vaccine that we can be confident is not connected to abortion in any way and is 100% produced ethically. The answers to these questions are quite waffly with these H numbers etc....

  8. Sarah Bell says:

    Thank you LIFE for this information, very informative. At present, I still cannot accept any of the vaccines, as even if there are no links to cell lines of aborted human fetuses in the actual vaccine, I still can't stomach having something that has been tested on aborted human fetuses inside me, regardless of the final result not having
    human cells from aborted babies. When I google, nothing's come up re complete ethical testing for this vaccine. 🙏😒🙏

  9. Rob says:

    Thanks, Life, for this article that helps us in making an informed moral choice with regard to which anti- Covid-19 vaccine to support. Catholics also have recourse to the Bishops Statement [cbcew.org.uk] updated on 3/12/20 which, whilst recognising that some sources of the Covid vaccines raise moral concerns, and that we have a duty to voice these concerns, advises: Catholics may in good conscience receive any of these vaccines (Pfizer/Biontech/Moderna/AstraZeneca-Oxford) for the good of others and themselves. In good conscience, one may refuse a particular vaccine but continues to have a duty to protect others from infection." It's a pity that we are only now, in 2020, collectively realising that "Cells derived from elective abortions have been used since the 1960s to manufacture vaccines, including current vaccines against rubella, chickenpox, hepatitis A, and shingles. They have also been used to make approved drugs against diseases including hemophilia, rheumatoid arthritis, & cystic fibrosis." [sciencemag.org "Abortion opponents protest.." 5/6/20]. I've read too that cell lines are used in testing foodstuffs (though admittedly this issue needs wider verification). It's a pity, too, that the number in HEK-293 refers to the unmourned 293rd aborted human person used in that particular line of scientific research [sunstar.com].

  10. Brian says:

    This is very helpful and clear. Thank you.

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