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Fact check: Was COVID vaccine testing, development connected to aborted fetal tissues?

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A pediatric physician at Ascension St. Vincent Hospital lost his job for refusing to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

News 8 first told the story of Dr. Paul Halczenko earlier this week.

Here’s what he said about his religious objection to the COVID vaccine: “It is well-documented that cell lines from aborted babies were used in the testing and development of the three currently available vaccines. I am not saying there are fetal parts of any kind in these vaccines. But aborted baby tissue was used in the testing and development of these vaccines.”

In this segment, News 8 medical reporter Dr. Mary Gillis joined anchor Alexis Rogers to break down his comments into two specific parts.

Here is the complete interview:

Alexis: Mary, is there any evidence that the coronavirus vaccine itself contains tissue from aborted fetuses?

Mary: No. Absolutely not. There is no evidence to support the fact that the coronavirus vaccines contain fragments of fetal tissue from aborted fetuses. This is according to scientists from across the United States and the globe. Researchers have published these papers and can be found in the U.S. National Library of Medicine, which is the research database for National Institutes of Health. 

Alexis: Let’s move to the second part, and Dr. Halczenko’s point: Did the testing and development of these vaccines include tissue from aborted fetuses?

Mary: Research shows it is connected to aborted fetuses from 40 to 50 years ago, so let’s give the context to that. The technology used to develop these vaccines to protect has been around for decades. 

It includes two cell lines developed from tissue from aborted fetuses from the 1970s and 1980s.The AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines used those cell lines in development and testing.

However, since it’s been so many decades, these cell lines no longer contain remnants of actual fetal tissue.

Pfizer and Moderna do not use these fetus derived-cell lines. They were researched and developed differently and are known as the mRNA vaccines.

Alexis: What does the Christian community say about this?

Mary: The Vatican says Catholics worldwide can get the vaccines. Their official statement reads: “When ethically irreproachable COVID-19 vaccines are not available … it is morally acceptable to receive COVID-19 vaccines that have used cell lines from aborted fetuses in their research and production process.”

Other Christian groups have issued similar statements, but let’s be clear the opinion is not universal.

Alexis: Mary, thank you.