Justice Clarence Thomas says aborted fetal cells are used in COVID vaccines — wrong again

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has just claimed that COVID-19 vaccines were developed from aborted fetal cells. I can’t believe I have to write this again, but no aborted fetus cells are found in any COVID-19 vaccines. None. Nada. Nichts.

Now aborted fetal cells are used in the development of some vaccines, and one of the COVID vaccines, which I’ll discuss below, but trying to parse whether he meant that those cells are actually in the vaccine is challenging. Either way,. whether he meant that there are those cells in all COVID vaccines OR the vaccines were developed using those cells, they’re both inaccurate to some extent.

I can’t believe I’ve reached a point in my writing career, which generally does not focus on dissenting opinions written by a Supreme Court Justice, but here we are. So let’s get into this nonsense by stating once again that Clarence Thomas is wrong — there are no fetal cells in COVID-19 vaccines. But let’s look at the case and what Thomas wrote in his dissenting opinion.

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Justice Clarence Thomas, aborted fetal cells, COVID-19 vaccines

New York State requires that all health care workers show proof of vaccination against COVID-19. A group of 16 doctors, nurses, and other health care workers, who were fired for objecting to the vaccination, brought the case to the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York in an objection to the New York State’s vaccine mandate on religious grounds. The district court issued a preliminary injunction, but the US Court of Appeals reversed it and the Supreme Court ultimately declined to hear the challenge on 30 June 2022. This means that the Court of Appeals reversal stands and New York may continue its COVID-19 vaccine mandate, and the fired healthcare workers remain fired.

This is the second time this year in which the Supreme Court has declined to hear a New York case involving religious exemptions to vaccine mandates.

Justice Thomas’ statement can be found in a dissenting opinion on a case in which the Supreme Court declined to hear the challenge to New York’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote:

They object on religious grounds to all available COVID–19 vaccines because they were developed using cell lines derived from aborted children

In response to his comment here are the facts:

  1. Only the JNJ COVID-19 vaccine is made using fetal retinal cells which are derived from a “terminated” fetus from the 1980s. However, there are no fetal cells or their remnants remaining in the vaccine. These are removed during the manufacturing process.
  2. The Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines use mRNA molecules that are produced without fetal cells.
  3. Fetal cells may be used in testing the effectiveness of vaccines early in the development timeline, but they aren’t included in the manufacturing of the COVID vaccines.

The reason fetal cells are used for the manufacturing of vaccines is very simple — the viruses that are necessary to make vaccines grow better in human cell lines than in other types of cells. When the viruses are harvested the cell lines are filtered out.

Furthermore, these fetal cell lines are not constantly renewed with new fetal cells — they mostly are derived from cells taken from terminated pregnancies decades ago. Scientific research, including developing new vaccines, requires standardization, so old cell lines fit the bill for standardization. There are no lines of researchers waiting outside of an abortion clinic wanting to get some cells.

Nevertheless, the final statement is that there are no fetal cells in any COVID-19 vaccine (or any other vaccine). Moreover, as I mentioned above, the Moderna and Pfizer COVID-19 vaccines don’t even touch aborted fetal cells, if only Clarence Thomas had these facts before writing his dissent.

Oh never mind. That’s probably never going to happen with that particular Justice.


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The Original Skeptical Raptor
Chief Executive Officer at SkepticalRaptor
Lifetime lover of science, especially biomedical research. Spent years in academics, business development, research, and traveling the world shilling for Big Pharma. I love sports, mostly college basketball and football, hockey, and baseball. I enjoy great food and intelligent conversation. And a delicious morning coffee!