Anthony Murdoch reports for LifeSiteNews — The University of Oxford in the UK is conducting a large-scale trial of a COVID-19 vaccine in South Africa, Brazil, and Britain that was made from a fetal cell line harvested from an aborted baby decades ago.
Starting this past Wednesday, approximately 2000 volunteers in South Africa ranging in age from 18 to 65 began to receive the trial vaccine known commercially as AZD1222, which was developed by the University of Oxford’s Oxford Jenner Institute.
The technical name of AZD1222 is ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, and it is made from a common cold virus called ChAdOx1. It is also a “replication-deficient adenovirus type vaccine” which uses the HEK-293 cell line made from fetal cells harvested from an aborted baby decades ago.
Oxford University scientists worked with AstraZeneca, who has the license to produce AZD1222, on the development and production of the vaccine. In addition to being tested in South Africa, the vaccine is already in trials in the United Kingdom and Brazil.
Alan Moy, M.D., founder and scientific director of the John Paul II Medical Research Institute and CEO of Cellular Engineering Technologies, told LifeSiteNews that vaccines which use the fetal cell line HEK293, such as the Canadian Ad5-nCoV coronavirus vaccine and AZD1222, are “not a good vaccine solution if pro-life or pro-choice.”
When asked about AZD1222, Moy confirmed for LifeSiteNews that the vaccine does indeed use an unethical cell line.
“It’s a chimpanzee adenovirus vector that indeed uses the HEK293 cell lines [derived from aborted baby] to manufacture,” Moy told LifeSiteNews.
“Yes, it’s ethically controversial.”
LifeSiteNews reported in May that the Canadian government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau teamed up with a Chinese vaccine company to test Ad5-nCoV in Canada.
Ad5-nCoV uses the aborted fetal cell line HEK293, which is licensed from Canada’s National Research Council (NRC). In May, Health Canada approved human trial testing of Ad5-nCoV.
The clinical trial of AZD1222 was announced via a “virtual press conference” Tuesday, which was hosted by the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, who is collaborating with the University of Oxford on the trial.
The South African “Ox1Cov-19 Vaccine VIDA-Trial” is being led by Shabir Madhi, who serves as Professor of Vaccinology at Wits University and Director of the South Africa Medical Research Council Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Research Unit.
In Wednesday’s announcement, Madhi called it a “landmark moment for South Africa and Africa at this stage of the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“As we enter winter in South Africa and pressure increases on public hospitals, now more than ever we need a vaccine to prevent infection by Covid-19,” Madhi said in the virtual press conference.
According to the Oxford University press release regarding AZD1222, it has been engineered to express the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein. The Oxford news release says that in the UK, over 4000 people are enrolled in the clinical trial of the vaccine, with “10,000” more planned.
As for Canada’s Ad5-nCoV coronavirus vaccine, in May, the NRC announced a collaboration with the Chinese firm CanSino Biologics Inc. (CanSinoBIO) to test and develop Ad5-nCoV in Canada. The trial vaccine Ad5-nCoV was co-developed by the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology and CanSinoBIO and has already been used in initial human trials since mid-March in China.
The John Paul II Medical Research Institute currently has a “Campaign for Cures” to raise funds to support research for developing an ethical COVID-19 vaccine. They are hoping to raise $325,000 by December 31, 2020.
They also have a page dedicated on their website where one can find information on how to tell whether or not a COVID-19 vaccine was derived from an aborted fetal cell line.
Vaccine’s potential effectiveness in humans questioned by experts
A non-peer-reviewed paper whose authors included scientists from Rocky Mountain Laboratories in the U.S. and Oxford Jenner Institute regarding the effectiveness of AZD1222 on rhesus macaques, was posted on bioRxiv in May. The paper shows that the vaccine appeared to prevent pneumonia in the macaques.
But some immunology experts who read the non-peer-reviewed paper, questioned certain aspects of the vaccine and its potential effectiveness.
Jonathan Ball, Professor of Molecular Virology, University of Nottingham, said he was concerned that those who receive the vaccine could shed the virus onto vulnerable populations.
“The fact that the vaccine prevented pneumonia in all, and symptoms in some, of the vaccinated animals is encouraging – we know that many vaccines work because they prevent serious disease rather than preventing virus infection. However, the amount of virus genome detected in the noses of the vaccinated and unvaccinated monkeys was the same and this is concerning,” said Ball in a May Science Media Centre posting.
“If this represents infectious virus and a similar thing occurs in humans, then vaccinated people can still be infected, shed large amounts of virus which could potentially spread to others in the community. If the most vulnerable people aren’t protected by the vaccine to the same degree, then this will put them at risk. Therefore, vaccine efficacy in vulnerable populations and the potential for virus shedding in vaccinated people needs very careful monitoring.”
Eleanor Riley, Professor of Immunology and Infectious Disease at the University of Edinburgh was quoted as saying in response to the paper, that the vaccine was “insufficient” in preventing viral “shedding in nasal secretions” in the test macaques.
“Whilst the vaccine induced neutralising antibodies and vaccinated animals experienced less severe clinical symptoms than unvaccinated animals (good), the neutralising antibody titres were low and insufficient to prevent infection and – importantly – insufficient to prevent viral shedding in nasal secretions (worrying),” Riley was quoted as saying in a May Science Media Centre posting.
“If similar results were obtained in humans, the vaccine would likely provide partial protection against disease in the vaccine recipient but would be unlikely to reduce transmission in the wider community.”