[conspire] (forw) Re: (forw) Not an antivaxxer, nosirree

Rick Moen rick at linuxmafia.com
Sun May 16 17:04:01 PDT 2021

Quoting Paul Zander (paulz at ieee.org):

> In past, many vaccines were developed using fetal cells.  Were all of
> the COVID-19 vaccines developed using fetal cells?  J&J I'm pretty
> sure, What about Pfizer and Moderna who have a very new process.

Good question.  I've been meaning to look a little closer into the
details of such matters, since KT mentioned it.

So, big picture:  It turns out that the whole thing is antivaxx bunk.
(As I mentioned, it's been a classic antivaxxer talking point.)  The 
antivaxx claim is that the vaccines are "morally compromised" because
they were developed and tested using cells derived from aborted fetal
tissue.  E.g., a letter in March from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of
New Orleans made that claim to its parishioners about the J&J vaccine, 
urging them to therefore avoid it.

But that is simply _not the case_.  It's (substantively) another lie.

Quite some time ago, scientists figured out how to make other cells into
stem cells (called iPSC or 'induced pluripotent stem cells'), meaning
that embryos do not have to be used -- and they are _not_ used, for lots
of reasons including expense.

However, some vaccines are developed with cells that came from fetuses,
although those cells are not classified as stem cells.  These are known
as cell lines, which can divide indefinitely in the lab.  In the case
of the J&J vaccine, there is a minuscule, almost homeopathic, sliver of
truth, sort of / kind of / almost:  The particular cells involved in
development of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine are called PER.C6 cells,
which are retinal cells that came _originally_ from a fetus that was
aborted in 1985 in the Netherlands, which were treated in the lab to
allow them to reproduce in lab settings ever since that time.

These PER.C6 cells, _originally_ derived 36 years ago from a Dutch embryo, 
are used in the manufacturing of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.  J&J
uses a disabled virus called adenovirus 26 that contains the DNA to make
the "spike" protein in addition to some portions of the adenovirus genome.
In order to make the vaccine, the scientists give PER.C6 cells DNA so that
they can make the parts of the virus and build that molecular machine:
Basically the PER.C6 cells are the factories that make the vaccine for

Because those viruses and viral vectors cannot be made in a test tube as
are the mRNA viruses, they must be made in some kind of cell, and PER.C6
cells are commodity lab cells used throughout the pharma industry's
adenovirus vector field for making viruses, and are known for being safe
and reliable.  Human cells are _specifically_ necessary for this
process, because they're the only ones that contain the correct sugars to
add to the proteins.

The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are a little different but a similar
case:  They were developed using HEK-293 kidney cells, which also came
_originally_ from an aborted fetus in the Netherlands in 1973 (48 years
ago) -- and have been reproducing in lab settings since then.

More specifically, those HEK-293 cells get used for testing of these
vaccines in early steps of studying the vaccines, i.e., the mRNA strands
are first put into these cells to ensure that the mRNA has no toxicity and
is safe, then also used in those same lab cells to make sure they induce
production of the correct protein (in this case, the "spike" protein from

HEK-293 cells have been used in the lab to make many different vaccines
and many biologic drugs like drugs for rheumatoid arthritis and cystic

Basically, if your personal morals are _so incredibly persnickety_ that
you are unwilling to have anything to do with lab-grown standard cells
whose remote ur-ancestors were harvested from an aborted fetus 36 or 48 
years ago -- then, sure, you can use the basically phony excuse of
"This thing has a very distant connection with a sample taken from an
aborted fetus half a century ago."

Our fundie friend KT _either_ knows it's yet another pile of bushwah,
or certainly ought to.  FWIW, by way of comparison, the Vatican issued a
statement last December giving the RCC's official view that it is 
"morally acceptable" for Roman Catholics to receive any COVID-19
vaccine, even one based on research that originally used cells derived
from aborted fetuses -- despite the Church's position against abortion,
and Pope Francis made a public display of taking and recommending the
Pfizer vaccine for that reason, as being entirely acceptable and as a 
religious good deed since it saves lives.

Because Pope Francis actually cares (at least intermittently) about
human lives and not about dumb culture wars and telling lies to prevail
against perceived ideological enemies.

Cheers,                          Grammarian's bar joke #26:  A gerund and an 
Rick Moen                        infinitive walk into a bar, drinking to forget.
rick at linuxmafia.com                                                           
McQ! (4x80)

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