Trust Index: Was J&J vaccine made using fetal cells?

Did the manufacturers of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine use cells taken from the tissue of an aborted fetus to develop the vaccine?

The News4Jax Trust Index Team is examining a controversial position the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is taking regarding the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine.

In a statement, the Conference expressed “moral concerns” about the vaccine, because the group says the drug was developed with lab-grown cells that descend from aborted fetuses.

Did the manufacturers of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine use cells taken from the tissue of an aborted fetus to develop the vaccine?

The Trust Index found that claim is true.

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Fetal cell lines from the 1980s were used to develop the J&J vaccine. It’s also important to point out that the fetal tissue was used solely in developmental stage and it is not in the vaccine.

As health officials race to get Americans vaccinated, the Conference of Catholic Bishops and six other dioceses from across the country are sending a different message about the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.

The conference writes: “If one has the ability to choose a vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna vaccines should be chosen over Johnson & Johnson’s. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was developed, tested and is produced with abortion-derived cell lines raising moral concerns.”

While that statement is true, infectious disease Dr. Mohammed Reza wants the public to understand that the abortion-derived cell line is not in the actual vaccine. He adds that fetal cells lines were also used to produce hepatitis A, rubella, chickenpox and shingles vaccines. He worries the Catholic dioceses’ recent statement might fuel more public skepticism.

”I can see where the Catholic church is coming from, but the point I want to get across is, if it’s not the Johnson and Johnson, get the Moderna or Pfizer vaccine, because they are all highly effective,” Reza said. “From my perspective, we need to get those shots into arms.”

Pope Francis and Pope Emeritus Benedict received COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they were available. The Vatican weighed in on the issue in December, issuing an assurance to the public, saying: “It is morally acceptable to receive COVID-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.”

″It’s a positive voice, because we know the way for us to get back to a safe environment and to get to herd immunity is through vaccination,” Reza said.

The Conference of Catholic Bishops also stated: “While we should continue to insist that pharmaceutical companies stop using abortion derived cell line, given the world wide-suffering that this pandemic is causing, we affirm again that being vaccinated can be an act of charity that serves the common good.”

About the Author:

Tarik anchors the 4, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekday newscasts and reports with the I-TEAM.