Does Covid-19 Vaccine Contain Aborted Male Fetus Cells?
A viral Facebook post (archive) claims that the COVID-19 vaccine contains cells from aborted male fetuses. The post has over 11 thousand shares and was made by We Are Vaxxed, an anti-vaccination group. The video claims that the vaccine being developed by Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca contains fetal tissue. The video features a narrator reading a study of the vaccine, particularly a section where the authors of the study mention “MRC-5 and A549 cell lines”. The video then shifts to the Wikipedia article for MRC-5 cell lines, highlighting that the cell line was “originally developed from the lung tissue of a 14-week-old aborted male fetus”.
However, the claim made by the post is false. Fact-checking website PolitiFact.com investigated the issue and received a statement from Jenny Hursit, a spokesperson for AstraZeneca. Hursit clarified that the MRC-5 cell line was not used in the development of the vaccine. David Matthews, a researcher and co-author of the study cited in the video, stated that the video misinterpreted the scientific paper. The study used MRC-5 cells to observe how the vaccine behaved when injected inside human cells. However, the vaccine itself is not made of the same MRC-5 cells.
A different cell line was used in the development of the vaccine, HEK 293. While HEK 293 cells were originally taken from an aborted fetus in 1973, the cell line is cloned and does not contain the original fetal tissue. Furthermore, the cells are purified to “exceptionally high standards” during the process of creating the vaccine, according to the director of the vaccine education center in the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. The final version of the vaccine contains mere trillionths of a gram of the original DNA in highly fragmented forms. Thus, it is wrong to claim that the vaccine contains fetal tissue or cells.