At a time of accelerated development of vaccines against Covid-19, being well-informed is important, especially regarding the ethics of how these vaccines are developed and then produced and tested. The potential use of aborted fetuses’ cell lines at any stage of the process is key for the ethical discernment. The Charlotte Lozier Institute in the United States has published, on the basis of a rigorous analysis of the scientific literature and the results of clinical trials, a detailed report of pharmaceutical companies that do or do not use such ethically controversial cell lines. The aim is to help the reader make informed choices regarding vaccines against the Coronavirus.
Let us first recall what a fetal cell line consists in. It is obtained by taking a cell from a fetus (in this case, aborted) and multiplying it into several identical cells. These cells can be grown and multiplied for several decades, creating “cell lines”, which are often used in scientific experiments. Some fetal cell lines date back decades and are used in the development of new vaccines. These are in particular the HEK293 and PER.C6 lines. The use of these cells does not require new abortions, but it is based on abortions that took place in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.
The question arises as to whether these fetal cell lines are absolutely necessary for the development of vaccines, specifically the Covid-19 vaccine. The answer is no: it is possible to develop vaccines ethically, either using no cells or using animal, chicken egg or yeast cells. And several pharmaceutical companies are doing this.
We need then to understand the different steps in the development in which cell lines from aborted fetuses may be used.