Religious leaders support Covid-19 vaccine while pro-lifers insist aborted foetuses used in production
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Discussion over whether Covid-19 vaccines contained aborted foetal DNA came up again this week at a webinar hosted by the Phoenix Settlement Trust and the Gandhi Development Trust on Covid-19.
However, leaders of religious institutions, have welcomed the vaccines and said they would lead by example.
Recently, the National Alliance for Life, a KZN-based pro-life umbrella body for organisations countrywide, claimed studies showed the use of aborted foetal cell lines in the vaccines
Albu van Eeden from Doctors For Life International conducted a presentation with the support of data from the pro-life Charlotte Lozier Institute in the US. The analysis was authored by the institute’s vice-president and research director, David Prentice, and it’s life sciences director Tara Sander Lee.
The Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Novavax, Sanofi/GSK, Inovio, and Merck vaccines were examined.
Prentice and Lee reported that both the Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca vaccines utilised abortion-derived cell lines in either the development and or production as well as lab tests of the vaccines.
However Professor Salim Abdool Karim, co-chair of the Covid-19 ministerial advisory committee, dismissed the claims that foetal tissues were utilised.
Archbishop Thabo Makgoba of Cape Town, said he was also told that Covid-19 vaccines utilised aborted foetuses but had been assured otherwise.
“I am proud of our scientists and to be a South African. I must lead by example and for that reason I will be vaccinated,” said Makgoba.
The Jamiat Ulama of South Africa’s general secretary, Ebrahim Bham, said they were consulting experts on Islamic permissibility of the vaccines.
“Our role is to ascertain and recommend vaccines to the Muslim public, in line with principles of and according to Islamic laws governing halaal. To this end, the council is engaging experts to evaluate such compliance. Patients can reserve the right to refuse treatment in hospitals and it should, therefore, be an individual’s choice to either take a vaccine or not, without any coercion or discriminatory measures.”
Ashwin Trikamjee, president of the SA Hindu Maha Sabha, said they supported any scientifically tested and approved vaccine.
“In Hinduism life is sacred and there is no prohibition against vaccines. One of the earliest reference to modern-style vaccination is in the Harivamsa Purana and is attributed to Dhanwantari ’God of Ayurveda’. Justice and fairness must trump profits.”
Wendy Kahn, national director of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, said they fully endorsed vaccination, and strongly encouraged inoculation.
“The scientific community guides us on the vaccine’s safety and efficacy. There is no prohibition from a Jewish perspective against vaccinations. Kashrut applies to what we ingest and since the vaccine is injected this is not relevant. Our medical experts have assured us that there are no remnants of human tissue in the Covid-19 vaccines,” she said.
On December 21, Vatican City released a statement after receiving requests for guidance on the morality of using Covid-19 vaccines that “in the course of research and production, employed cell lines drawn from tissue obtained from two abortions that occurred in the last century.”
In the statement approved by Pope Francis, Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith clarified they had no intentions to judge the safety and efficacy of vaccines, their objective was to consider the moral aspects of its use.
In the absence of “ethically irreproachable” Covid-19 vaccines, vaccines that used cell lines from aborted foetuses in their research and production process “can be used in good conscience”. It added that this would “not constitute formal co-operation” with the terminations that took place.
President Cyril Ramaphosa in his address last month, said no one would be forced to take the vaccine.