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VERIFY: Yes, Johnson & Johnson used aborted fetal cell lines in its creation of the COVID-19 vaccine

Our VERIFY team contacted three sources to confirm how Johnson & Johnson produced its vaccine.

Was the Johnson & Johnson vaccine developed from aborted fetal cell lines? 

It is a question many of you have asked the VERIFY team after the Catholic church issued a statement warning Catholics that the shot is “morally compromised”.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and Committee on Pro-life Activities posted a statement online and social media. It said, in part, “The Johnson & Johnson vaccine … was tested and is produced with abortion-derived cell lines raising … moral concerns. Therefore, if one has the ability to choose a vaccine, Pfizer or Moderna’s vaccines should be chosen over Johnson & Johnson.”

Read the full statement here.  

RELATED: Archdiocese of New Orleans advises Catholics that J&J vaccine is 'morally compromised'

Ms. Adams, Victoria, and several others asked the VERIFY team, “Did Johnson & Johnson use cells, derived decades ago from an abortion, to create the vaccine?”

We have three sources for this:

  • The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
  • Johnson & Johnson 
  • Dr. Amesh Adalja, a Senior Scholar at Johns Hopkins who treats infectious disease, critical care and emergency patients and also works on pandemic policy.

“The vaccine itself does not include any kind of fetal cells. However, the vaccine is manufactured using fetal cells, as is the AstraZeneca vaccine. The origin of these cell lines is from aborted fetuses,” Adalja said.

Johnson & Johnson issued a statement to the VERIFY team saying, in part, “There is no fetal tissue in our Janssen COVID-19 vaccine. Our COVID-19 vaccine is an inactivated/non-infective adenovirus vector (similar to a cold virus), which codes for the coronavirus “spike” (s) protein. We are able to manufacture hundreds of millions of doses using our engineered cell-line system that enables the rapid production of new viral vaccines to combat many of the most dangerous infectious diseases.”

So where do the aborted fetal cells come in? Dr. Adalja explains they were used to produce the adenovirus vector.

“What happens is they grow the virus through those cells. They then harvest the virus, filter all of that material. What you get in your vaccine is actually the virus that's been engineered,” Adalja said.

Dr. Adalja says, while the COVID-19 vaccine is getting a lot of attention right now, fetal cell lines are used to make many vaccines.

“The Chicken Pox vaccine, the shingles vaccine, the hepatitis A vaccine, the rubella vaccine, one of the rabies vaccines, all used fetal cells. So, this is nothing new,” Adalja said.

So, we can verify that Johnson & Johnson did use aborted fetal cells in its creation of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Dr. Adalja adds fetal cells are an important part of life-saving enhancements. He says has full confidence in Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.

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