The claim made by some citizen journalists is that certain COVID-19 vaccines “contain cells from an aborted fetus.” One video headline stated: “CONFIRMED — aborted fetus in COVID-19 vaccine.”

Fact checkers have “debunked” these claims and labeled them false, in one instance because the name of the fetal cell line was incorrect and in others because the vaccines do not literally “contain” these cells; rather, the fetal cell lines were used as a growth medium for the virus during the production phase.

Labeling the claim that “COVID-19 vaccines contain fetal cells” as “false” can actually be just as misleading, as this ignores the moral issue of aborted fetuses being used in medicine, and in fact makes it sound as though it’s not happening. Again, you’d have to read the whole fact checking article to see that fetal cell lines are indeed used in the development of some of these vaccines, and the “false” label is based on some technical detail or specificity of the verbiage.

Fact checkers’ claim that fetal cells are not used in vaccine development because they are clones of the original is perhaps the most ludicrous. There’s no difference between cells growing and multiplying indefinitely in a petri dish and cells growing and multiplying in your body during your lifetime. If the cells in your body are still you, then the cells in the petri dish are still that of the original fetus that was aborted.

Aside from ethical concerns, some may also object to vaccines manufactured through the use of fetal cell lines on the basis that there may be health risks involved, due to potential DNA contamination. Human fetal cell lines in vaccine production have been linked to both autism and autoimmune diseases.

Vaccine makers using a fetal cell line in the development of their COVID-19 vaccines include AstraZeneca, Jansen Research and Development/Johnson & Johnson, CanSino Biologics, University of Pittsburgh, ImmunityBio and Altimmune.

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