Dr. Francis Collins recently joined Russell Moore to talk about the COVID-19 vaccine and he shared insights about the development of the vaccines, misconceptions about them, and what it will take to get our church life back to “normal.”
How do I know that this vaccine is going to be safe for me to take?
Dr. Collins encourages us to look at the truth of the situation. With so much fear and anxiety out there, misinformation is easily spread as people search for some glimmer of hope, and often there are claims that prey on people’s fear and anxiety. Instead, Dr. Collins appeals to Phillipians 4:8:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
Dr. Collins emphasizes that they are making every effort to be as transparent as possible and encourages people to pay attention to the public meetings that were held in December 2020 about the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines. He also acknowledges that the term “warp speed” was not the best phrasing choice when talking about the vaccine trials. It was meant to inspire people but could have also conveyed that we were cutting corners.
As a physician, as a researcher, as a scientist, who has been in the middle of this since January 2020, we have done nothing to compromise […] the safety of efficiency standards for these vaccines. What we’ve done is figure out how to get rid of some of the dead time that normally means it takes eight years to develop a vaccine and instead do it in 10 months. But the rigor involved, if anything, has been escalated to an even higher level than has been applied to vaccines before. In the past, usually a trial for a vaccine is 4,000-5,000 people and these trials are all at least 30,000 people. So you’re really looking for any hint of something that didn’t go right. If the FDA in their conclusions say these are safe and effective, it’s because the data says they are safe and effective.
Will taking the vaccine compromise my pro-life convictions?
Russell Moore addressed the question that many pastors and leaders in ministries are going to be dealing with. One concern is that people are worried the COVID-19 vaccines were developed using human fetal tissues. Dr. Collins addressed that:
There is a cell line which was derived in 1972, that was derived from a pregnancy termination, in Scandinavia, an elective abortion. That cell line, called HEK293, has been used in many, many areas of biotechnology because it just happens to work particularly well for various purposes. That cell line is in fact part of the preparation for two of the vaccines that aren’t yet ready for approval. One by Johnson and Johnson and one by AstraZeneca. That cell line is not used in the production of Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, although that cell line is sometimes used just as a lab bench experiment to make sure everything is working the way it’s supposed to do. But it’s not used in the production line and that makes a lot of difference to people who are pro-life.
Can society not take the vaccine, get COVID-19 naturally and then eventually reach herd immunity?
Dr. Collins addressed this question very directly:
If we were to adopt that strategy, we would potentially get to herd immunity, but there would be millions of us no longer around. The death consequences of that would be appalling. And that’s not just folks already in nursing homes, that’s most of the people who have died of COVID-19 so far, people who are walking around in society, many of them in the prime of life, perhaps with hypertension, or diabetes, or some other illness that predisposes them to having a particularly severe case. But this is all of us. That is too high a price for us to bear if we don’t have to. This whole idea of ‘just let it rip’ and herd immunity take care of it, well yeah, but most of us might not be there at that point. We can do better than that. That’s not the Christian answer, that’s not loving our neighbors.
We encourage you to watch the full video with Russell Moore and Dr. Francis Collins. The 30 minute discussion is helpful, encouraging and weighted with biblical wisdom. For more information on what churches are doing in the midst of the pandemic, visit our COVID-19 page.