State: Fetal cell lines, not fetal tissue, were used to make Johnson & Johnson vaccine

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Shipments of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose vaccine have started to arrive in Tennessee and Arkansas. The Tennessee State Health Department is trying to clear up some confusion over the vaccine’s formula.

Some religious leaders criticized the company’s shot for its ties to abortion. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is urging Christians to avoid the vaccine saying it was developed, tested and produced with abortion-derived cell lines.

The health department set up a special page on its website highlighting some important facts. In the Q&A section, the health department stated, “Tissues are groups of organized cells. Tissues are not used to make vaccines. Fetal tissue was not used to make J&J’s, nor any other, COVID-19 vaccine. In developing its vaccine, J&J used a fetal cell line, which no longer contains the original donor cells, to grow a harmless virus, which causes some of the body’s cells to make a protein that causes the immune response.”

Dr. Steve Threlkeld further explained.

“These are called cell lines. They’re nothing more than human cells that have been passaged tens of thousands of times since,” he said. “Yes indeed they were actually recovered from an aborted fetus in the 70s or 80s and there are several of these cell lines. There’s no fetal tissue remaining in any of those cell lines now. So we’re decades and many thousands of generations of the cell removed from that actual event.”

He said these cell lines have been used in other vaccines for hepatitis, chickenpox and rabies.

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