A GROUP REPRESENTING bishops in Ireland said it is “morally permissible” for Catholics to take a Covid-19 vaccine that involves the use of fetal cell lines.

Irish bishops said the Catholic Church recognizes that safe and effective vaccination is “an essential aspect” of disease prevention, and that refusal to accept a Covid-19 vaccine “could contribute to important loss of life in the community ”.

The bishops’ statements refer to how the genetic material of aborted fetuses has been used – in many cases decades ago, and from endings researched for unrelated reasons – to start “cell lines” in order to produce certain vaccines.

The cell substrate is used to create large amounts of viruses. These cell lines have multiplied over the decades, to such a scale that no new fetal tissue because the original cells were needed for them, and none of the original tissue exists.

In recent years, new technologies have emerged – such as mRNA vaccines – that allow alternative methods of creating vaccines other than using human cell lines.

Most of the Covid-19 vaccines in development do not use these cell lines to produce them.

The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine and the Moderna vaccine do not use fetal tissue – they use new mRNA technology, which uses a DNA template rather than cells.

Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine uses human-derived cell strain called HEK 293 develop its Covid-19 vaccine – but the cells are filtered out of the final vaccine product.

You can read more about it to Full Fact, at the bbc or in this TheJournal.ie Checking the facts.

What the bishops said

Despite the Catholic Church’s belief that “abortion is still gravely immoral”, the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference said tonight that “if a more ethically acceptable alternative” is not available, it is “morally acceptable” for Catholics to accept a vaccine that uses fetal cell lines.

“The Church has always made a distinction… between formal (deliberate) involvement in an immoral act and material involvement, which can be fortuitous and remote.

The decision of those who decide to accept vaccines that have been linked to fetal cell lines in the past does not imply any consent on their part to the abortion.

The bishops also noted that many vaccines in development do not depend on fetal cell lines for production.

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“Catholics should continue to advocate for the availability of ethically developed vaccines,” the bishops’ statement added.

The government announced its Covid-19 vaccine deployment plan: Nursing home residents over 65, frontline healthcare workers and people over 70 are the first to receive the vaccine if and when it is approved.

Yesterday the UK became the first country to administer a clinically approved vaccine; with a 90-year-old Fermanagh grandmother who lives in England becoming the first person to receive him.

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