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Three of Australia's leading religious figures have called for a boycott on the potential coronavirus vaccine being sent to the country due to ethical reasons.
The Australian government announced last week that it had sent a Letter of Intent to a UK pharmaceutical company to secure tens of millions of doses of the Covid-19 cure being developed by Oxford University.
There has been a massive fallout over the decision and many people have voiced their opposition to getting the vaccine if and when it arrives on our shores.
Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher, Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Glenn Davies and Greek Orthodox Archbishop of Australia Makarios Griniezakis have now also waded into the debate.
Here is the letter to the PM from Sydney's Catholic and Anglican Archbishops and the leader of Australia's Greek Orthodox. They are at pains to say they're not anti-vaccines. @9NewsAUS pic.twitter.com/BH70A6RT4x
- Chris O'Keefe (@cokeefe9) August 24, 2020
They have signed a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, asking him to abandon the plans to use the vaccine.
Their big issue with the potential cure is that researchers have been using cell lines from an electively aborted foetus.
The letter asks the Australian government to pursue finding a vaccine that hasn't been 'morally' compromised.
"Please be assured that our churches are not opposed to vaccination: as we have said, we are praying that one may be found," the letter said. "But we also pray that it be one that is not ethically tainted."
Human embryonic kidney 293 cells, also known as HEK 293, are taken from an aborted female foetus and have been used in cell biology research for years.
Researchers tend to use these types of cells because they can reliably grow in laboratory settings. The biotechnology industry has been using them to produce therapeutic proteins and viruses for gene therapy. Because they're human cells they're also useful in seeing how proteins will react with the human body.
Despite this long history of cultivating the cells to help combat some nasty viruses, it seems the religious leaders are standing firm.
Anglican Archbishop of Sydney Dr Davies has told the ABC: "To use that tissue for science is reprehensible. From what I've understood, there are so many places around the world on the hunt for this vaccine, which I'm certainly hopeful that there will be pressure on those countries to make it widely available.
"So I'm not putting Hobson's choice [take it or leave it] at this stage."
The vaccine isn't expected to be ready until at least the end of the year or well into next year. It will take several months for everyone in Australia to get vaccinated as it won't be available to the masses immediately.
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