The St. Louis Archdiocese said on Tuesday, March 2 that Catholics should avoid Johnson & Johnson vaccine if alternatives are available and encouraged them to "examine the moral and ethical concerns" around that particular jab.
As per the church, the viral vector vaccine, developed by Johnson & Johnson that has received approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency use, maybe "morally compromised."
"A cell line derived from an aborted child seems to have been used in the development and production of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine," said the Archdiocese.
J&J Vaccine Vs Other Jabs
The statement from the Archdiocese comes as Missouri and Illinois are set to roll out the vaccine, beginning on Wednesday, March 3. While Missouri expects 50,000 J&J vaccine doses to go out to distribution centers, Illinois is expecting more than 100,000 doses to be deployed. Almost four million vaccine doses are expected to go out all over the country.
The church said Catholics should not restrain from getting vaccinated. But it also said that both the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines are more acceptable according to the tenets of their faith.
In the statement, the church said: "As some Catholics may face a situation in which they are only offered the choice of the Johnson & Johnson inoculation, this should not prevent Catholics from getting vaccinated."
"As the bishops of Missouri have previously stated, Catholics may in good conscience utilize vaccines, even those derived in an unethical manner, to protect themselves, as well as to avoid the serious risk to vulnerable persons and to society as a whole resulting from remaining unvaccinated," it added.
J&J Is Different from Other Vaccines
The J&J COVID-19 vaccine is set to be a cost-effective alternative to other popular vaccines—Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna. It can be stored in a refrigerator and doesn't need a freezer.
According to the vaccine trials, the vaccine prevented serious illness but was 66 percent effective overall when moderate cases were included. Countries like the UK and Canada have ordered J&J doses, while 500 million doses have also been ordered through the Covax scheme to supply poorer nations in the world.
This vaccine was created by taking a harmless adenovirus—viral vector—and replacing a small piece of its genetic instructions with Coronavirus genes for the COVID-19 causing virus' spike protein.
After injecting this modified adenovirus into someone's arm, it gets inside the person's cells. Then the cells read the genetic instructions needed to make the spike protein and vaccinated cells make, as well as present the S protein on their own surface.
The immune system of the vaccinated person then notices these foreign proteins and starts making antibodies against them that will protect the person if they are ever exposed to the novel virus in the future.
J&J used a similar method to make the Ebola vaccine. Apart from the American company, the Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is also an adenovirus viral vector jab.