THE QUESTION: Is it true aborted fetal cell lines were used to create the Johnson & Johnson vaccine?
THE ANSWER: Yes, fetal cell lines were used to manufacture and develop the J&J COVID-19 vaccine.
OUR SOURCES: Our sources include two experts in the Texas medical field: Dr. Mark Casanova, the immediate past president of the Dallas County Medical Society, and Dr. Ashley Garling, the clinical assistant professor with the University of Texas at Austin College of Pharmacy.
WHAT WE FOUND:
Many people on the internet have been asking if fetal cell lines have been used in the COVID-19 vaccines.
With the recent approval of the J&J vaccine, there’s a new twist on how those cells contributed to the latest tool in the fight against the pandemic.
Fetal cell lines were first introduced more than 50 years ago. For the lines involved in the COVID-19 vaccines, they started with two aborted fetuses in 1973 and 1985.
A researcher in the Netherlands obtained these cells, according to Casanova. It’s currently unknown how or why he did so.
Since then, these cells have been multiplied millions of times, which is where we get the term: fetal cell lines.
“These cells are reproduced and grown literally day after day, used in a lot of research endeavors, including developments of vaccines,” Casanova said.
Scientists like to use fetal cell lines as hosts because they’re still in development and will replicate more rapidly outside the human body. In terms of the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, cell lines allowed researchers to test the mRNA-based vaccines and prove that they worked.
The J&J vaccine works differently than the two vaccines that have been widely distributed in the U.S. so far. For the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines, the genetic material that codes for the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein is delivered in a lipid nanoparticle.
When it’s in the body, the mRNA triggers the body to produce the spike protein, and then the body responds to the presence of the spike protein by creating antibodies.
That antibody response is what prepares the immune system to react if it ever encounters SARS-CoV-2, lowering the likelihood that the virus will result in a COVID-19 infection.
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