How fetal-derived cells play a critical part in vaccine development

Medical Watch
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The Centers for Disease Control announced some good news Monday

The COVID-9 vaccines are working so well, fully vaccinated people can ditch their masks and hug their loved ones.

One year after the lockdowns, it’s a sign of recovery as some people can get close again with no concern about quarantining.

There has however been some concern about the way vaccines were made, but religious leaders say have faith and get your shot at normalcy.

Fetal-derived cells are used by scientists all over the world. At Northwestern Medicine, Dr. Thomas Hope studies a form called HEK cells for HIV research.

“The one that most everyone uses in their lab, I have it in my lab, that goes back to the 70s in the Netherlands,” he said. “These things were done decades ago, and they are now common materials. The HEK cells are probably in 75 – 80% of the labs at Northwestern where I work where. People are using cells to study in the lab.”

They played a critical role in bringing COVID-19 vaccines to the masses. To make the vector, or carrier, that delivers the spike protein to our cells upon injection, Johnson and Johnson used a fetal cell line that dates back decades.

“And that one was derived in 1985 in Netherlands and that was form an elective abortion,” Hope said. “And that material was donated to researchers who took some of the cells and tried to generate cell lines.”

Pfizer and Moderna utilized the cells to test their vaccines.

“You have to be sure it is getting into the cell and making the spike protein and functioning like it should. So to do that you have to have a human cell line,” Hope said. “Are fetal cells going into me? No. Under no circumstances. Are there pieces of cells going into me? No. That is not what is going on. And so I think it’s important that everyone understands the details.”

Given the origin of the cells used during research, the Vatican and Chicago’s Archbishop Cardinal Blase Cupich have issued public guidance when it comes to the vaccine.

“I take this occasion to encourage everyone to become vaccinated,” Cupich said. “And when their time comes, I want to make it clear to Catholics and everyone else that they can receive whatever vaccine is offered to them with a clear conscience.”

“Even as an insider to see how we went from not really knowing this virus existed to having vaccines and potentially vaccinating the U.S. by the time we get to summer is just remarkable,” Hope said. “It’s an amazing achievement and that could not have happened without these fetal-derived cell lines.”

And now the unthinkable has happened. The CDC Monday announced fully vaccinated people can gather, indoors, without a mask.

“Fully vaccinated people can visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask or physically distancing, visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing,” CDC’s Dr. Rochelle Walensky said.

That’s because science shows those fully vaccinated people do not asymptomatically spread COVID-19 and therefore carry little risk to others.

A little more than 9% of people in the U.S. are fully vaccinated. And even though some are getting their privileges back, experts warn, those who are not vaccinated still need to wear masks and stay socially distanced.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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