coronavirus

Catholic Bioethicist: No Need to Shun COVID-19 Vaccine Derived From Fetus

A vial of the COVID-19 vaccine candidate to be used in the Phase 1 clinical trial is displayed at the Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility in Oxford, England, April 2, 2020. (Photo: Catholic News Service)

A scientist looks at COVID-19 infected cells under a microscope at the Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility in Oxford, England, Feb. 14, 2020. (Photo: Catholic News Service)

A scientist working on the team developing the ChAdOx1 nCoV-19 vaccine pours fluids at the Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility in Oxford, England, Feb. 14, 2020. (Photo: Catholic News Service)

A scientist checks quality control of COVID-19 vaccine vials for correct volume at the Clinical Biomanufacturing Facility in Oxford, England, April 2, 2020. (Photo: Catholic News Service)

By Simon Caldwell

MANCHESTER, England (CNS) – There is “no absolute duty” to boycott any COVID-19 vaccine produced with the help of cells derived from aborted fetuses, said a researcher from a Catholic bioethics institute.

Scientists from the University of Oxford, England, are conducting human trials of a possible vaccine against the coronavirus in the hope that it could be made ready for use by September.

But because researchers had used cell lines from a fetus aborted in 1972, the vaccine could present an ethical dilemma for Catholics and others opposed to abortion, said Helen Watt, a senior research fellow with the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, Oxford.

In a briefing paper issued April 27, she said although it was morally wrong to experiment on fetal tissue obtained from abortion clinics, it was not always wrong to use vaccines produced from such research.

“Boycotting a COVID-19 vaccine in the absence of an alternative is a serious action that should be carefully considered because of its potentially grave risks both for the person and for others,” she said in the paper published on the website of the center, which serves the Catholic Church in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

She said its use was a matter of individual conscience for Catholics, although they should strive to obtain alternative vaccines, made without fetal cells, once such vaccines arrive on the market.

“The moral onus is certainly on the person to do this as a witness to the value of human life and life-respecting research,” she said.

“Boycotts are often rightly regarded simply as a means of achieving change by highlighting abuses,” she added, though “some will feel, whether rightly or wrongly, called to a boycott even if no alternative vaccine is available to them.”

When judging the researchers, Watt continued, it was important to remember that “we walk in Rome on paving laid by slaves … we live in countries that our ancestors unjustly invaded.”

2 thoughts on “Catholic Bioethicist: No Need to Shun COVID-19 Vaccine Derived From Fetus

  1. I think that Philosopher Miss Anscombe, Catholic Mother of (I think) 5 children herself, and for whom the Anscombe Bioethics Centre is named, might disagree with the conclusion of Helen Watt, a senior research fellow.
    Ethics aside, God is not mocked; I have an unscientific suspicion that there will be horrific –if delayed– medical consequences for those who knowingly or unknowingly accept vaccines derived from exploitation of cell lines of other, murdered human beings.
    Good ends never justify evil means; and pragmatically, we should accept the fact that sooner or later we all die, and it is better to die refusing a vaccine exploiting the murder of others, –merely to delay the inevitable.

  2. If we don’t boycott unethically developed vaccines, what motivates the research companies to use ethical research? Nothing. They are only valuing actions that result in money. If everyone shrugs and goes ahead with their vaccines, no company will even try to do it in the way that does not offend God. As for endangering family and friends: people in oppressive countries that simply go to church often endanger their families and friends. If we follow God’s law *first* we will all be better for it…
    Daniel’s Faithfulness Daniel 1: 11 ff
    …11Then Daniel said to the steward whom the chief official had appointed over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, 12“Please test your servants for ten days. Let us be given only vegetables to eat and water to drink. 13Then compare our appearances with those of the young men who are eating the royal food, and deal with your servants according to what you see.”…

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *