The FDA recently approved Sanofi Pasteur’s request to switch from using an aborted fetal cell line (MRC-5) to using an ethical animal cell line to produce its polio combination vaccines Pentacel and Quadracel. The drug company has also chosen to discontinue production of its stand-alone polio vaccine, Poliovax, which also used MRC-5 for its production, and to retain another stand-alone polio vaccine, IPOL, that is ethically produced. Furthermore, Sanofi-Pasteur’s ongoing effort to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 also does not rely on cell lines linked to elective abortion.
The only vaccines readily available in the United States for some contagious diseases (e.g., rubella, chickenpox, and Hepatitis A) have been manufactured using fetal tissue from induced abortions. This creates a problem of conscience for some parents.
As recommended by the Pontifical Academy for Life in 2005 and reiterated in its 2017 Note on Italian Vaccine Issue, a long-term solution lies in working to ensure that future vaccines and other medicines are not based on cooperation with practices that demean human life. The 2005 statement noted that physicians and parents “have a duty to take recourse to alternative vaccines (if they exist), putting pressure on the political authorities and health systems so that other vaccines without moral problems become available.” This applies to products with a connection to abortion, such as vaccines, as well as to projected therapies from destruction of human embryos for their stem cells.
This move from Sanofi Pasteur is an encouraging indicator that for-profit companies creating vaccines are beginning to recognize there is no need to use cell lines derived from aborted children.
One important step we can take to ensure the production of ethical vaccines is to recognize and thank drug companies, like Sanofi Pasteur, when they move away from unethical vaccine production. Click here to thank Sanofi Pasteur for his ethical considerations. We hope that, with some encouragement, other vaccine manufacturers may consider creating other morally acceptable vaccines.
The Church embraces scientific advancement when it upholds the dignity of the human person and the precious gift of human life.
- By the USCCB Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities