Will a vaccine end current and future coronavirus pandemics and what ethical therapies are the Institute working on?
By Alan Moy, MD
The current COVID-19 pandemic underscores a problem that the John Paul II Medical Research Institute (JP2MRI) have been working on for years. Many are aware that JP2MRI has been developing ethical cell lines to replace those longstanding aborted fetal cell lines used in vaccines, cell therapy, biologics and gene therapy. Some of the investigational COVID-19 vaccines being developed use aborted fetal tissue cell lines. I cannot predict whether any of these vaccine candidates will work on COVID-19. Regardless of the outcome of this current outbreak, I can comfortably state that an effective vaccine against the COVID-19 strain will not provide immunity against future coronavirus outbreaks that will likely originate from China and the Middle East. The genetics of COVID-19 is very divergent than that of the MERS strain, which indicates that the next outbreak will result in a completely new strain with unknown morbidity and mortality. For example, the MERS outbreak carried a 35 percent mortality, while SARS carried a 10 percent mortality. We're fortunate that the mortality rate from COVID-19 is much lower. While a great deal of the blame is attributed to China's government, and to a lesser extent on the World Health Organization for not providing accurate information, we are discovering the failures in our own public health preparedness. The question is what new steps will our government, healthcare system and the private sector take to prepare for the next pandemic because it is inevitable.
Back in 2005 the Vatican asked that ethical cell lines be developed for vaccine development, but nothing was achieved since then. Pro-life people who recognize the dignity of the unborn child even at its earliest stages of development, must decide what role they will play when it comes to the use of aborted fetal cells in vaccines to protect against novel pathogens. Morally illicit cells have been around for half of century, but until now little effort has been made to develop and/or support the development of ethical alternative human cell lines. Catholic and other pro-life financial and religious institutions, hospital systems, higher education, private foundations and philanthropists either did not make investments, conduct medical research or promote morally acceptable biotechnology. Lastly, many have wittingly or unwittingly financially supported secular medical research foundations that support aborted fetal tissue and embryonic stem cell research. We can rectify that by continuing to support our efforts at developing ethical alternatives to the use of aborted fetal tissue.
There are three major countermeasures against coronavirus that the Institute is leading the research effort or help co-develop: (1) A pipeline of ethical cell lines that can produce COVID-19 vaccines that the government and large pharmaceutical companies can in-license if they so choose; (2) An off-the-shelf antiviral therapy against COVID-19 and future coronaviruses and other viruses; and (3) A platform based on our cell technology to create a live attenuated vaccine that would offer broader protection against future coronavirus strains. However, these technologies take time and financial support.