CLEARWATER, Fla. -- In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, pharmaceutical companies are racing to provide a vaccine to prevent further spread of the disease. Unfortunately, Moderna, the company that has been recently touted in news headlines for its developing mRNA-1273 vaccine to fight the virus, uses aborted fetal cells.
Debi Vinnedge, Executive Director of Children of God for Life, a prolife organization whose mission is to end the use of aborted fetal material in vaccines and medicines, said her suspicions were raised after checking Moderna's patents and in particular, the use of the Spike (S) protein.
The idea behind using this Spike protein in a vaccine with messenger RNA (mRNA) is to teach the patient's immune system to produce its own protein antibodies to block and destroy the virus so the person will not become infected. Unfortunately, Vinnedge said her heart sank when she discovered that Spike protein was produced using HEK 293 aborted fetal cells.
"It was detailed in several science publications," she said. "And in light of the public fear and panic, I did not want to be the bearer of bad news." Vinnedge said the heavy burden of revealing that knowledge made her dig further into others' research. That's when she found another well- known pharmaceutical company had a better solution.
Enter, Sanofi Pasteur which is using its own recombinant DNA platform to produce a Covid-19 vaccine. According to the Department of HHS Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) reports, Sanofi is using the DNA of the baculovirus expression platform, which is also used in their licensed Flublok Quadrivalent vaccine.
As in most seasonal flu vaccines, the need to produce large quantities of vaccine quickly has been a problem for many years as pharmaceutical companies used chicken eggs to cultivate their viruses. It takes several months and millions of eggs needed to produce the vaccines and so many companies began to turn to other cell lines for faster production.
One such company was Protein Sciences whose recombinant DNA platform is based on insect cells. Their Sf9 cell line comes from the fall armyworm and is highly susceptible to infection. It has been used for several years in producing influenza vaccines. In 2017, Sanofi Pasteur bought Protein Sciences and is using this same platform for their newly developing Covid-19 vaccine which will allow them the flexibility to make millions of doses of vaccine quickly.
"This is great news for millions of people world-wide who are concerned with the use of aborted fetal material in life-saving treatments or vaccines," stated Ms. Vinnedge. "There is a multitude of moral options that are safer and quite frankly, utilize a more modern technology."
Vinnedge said she was particularly annoyed to see a recent article in the Washington Post trying to assert that President Trump's ban on the use of aborted fetal tissue was blocking important research and treatments for Covid-19 virus.
"That accusation is laughable at best and nothing more than a political maneuver," stated Vinnedge. "In fact, we have morally produced treatments for patients who are already infected, notably Hydroxychloroquine or Plaquenil. And there are more promising treatments on the way to prevent infection entirely. President Trump has done a great job of promoting morally responsible research ensuring that all Americans can have the protection they need."
"It is deplorable that anyone would want to exploit the remains of aborted babies for financial profit especially when so many people will refuse to use those products because of their deeply held religious, moral and pro-life convictions?" she added. "We applaud the efforts of companies such as Sanofi Pasteur who are providing morally acceptable options!"
References: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/sci/suppl/2020/02/18/science.abb2507.DC1/abb2507-Wrapp-SM.pdf (Material and Methods - Spike S Protein)
https://www.fda.gov/media/123144/download (Sanofi Flublok Quadrivalent pack insert)