You asked, we answered: Do the COVID-19 vaccines contain aborted fetal cells?

Published December 28, 2020

Published

You asked, we answered: Do the COVID-19 vaccines contain aborted fetal cells?

Question

Do the COVID-19 vaccines contain aborted fetal cells?

Answer from infectious diseases expert James Lawler, MD

No, the COVID-19 vaccines do not contain any aborted fetal cells. However, Pfizer and Moderna did perform confirmation tests (to ensure the vaccines work) using fetal cell lines.

But it's important to have the full context: Fetal cell lines are not the same as fetal tissue. Fetal cell lines are cells that grow in a laboratory. They descend from cells taken from elective abortions in the 1970s and 1980s. Those individual cells from the 1970s and 1980s have since multiplied into many new cells over the past four or five decades, creating fetal cell lines. Current fetal cell lines are thousands of generations removed from the original fetal tissue. 

Vaccine makers may use these fetal cell lines in any of the following three stages of vaccine development: 

  • Development: Identifying what works
  • Confirmation: Making sure it works
  • Production: Manufacturing the formula that works

When it comes to the COVID-19 vaccines currently approved for emergency use, neither the Pfizer nor Moderna vaccines used fetal cell lines during the development or production phases. (So, no fetal cell lines were used to manufacture the vaccine, and they are not inside the injection you receive from your doctor.) However, both companies used the fetal cell line HEK 293 in the confirmation phase to ensure the vaccines work. All HEK 293 cells are descended from tissue taken from a 1973 elective abortion that took place in the Netherlands. 

None of the COVID-19 vaccines in development use fetal cells taken from recent abortions. 

We understand this topic is very sensitive and important within communities of faith. We want everyone to feel like they are making a fully informed decision. We encourage anyone with concerns about the use of fetal cell lines in vaccine development to weigh the risks and benefits of the COVID-19 vaccines with their doctor and have a personal conversation with a faith leader.

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