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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

The ethics of the COVID-19 vaccine: a multi-faith perspective

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Earlier today, the Anglican Archbishop of Sydney declared that he would be boycotting the COVID-19 vaccine that the government plans to acquire. The Archbishop raised ethical concerns about the coveted vaccine’s use of cell linings from aborted foetuses. Other leaders from minority religions in Australia also responded to the vaccine.

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Jatin Kumar Bhatt, the Head Priest at Sri Mandir in Auburn referred to the primary principles of Hinduism. While the doctrine of non-violence is his main concern, he explains that the need of the hour is the safety and security of the community.

“In Hinduism, we practice non-violence and as a Hindu priest, I would like science to develop vaccines which don’t involve aborted foetal tissue. But if scientists develop a successful vaccine with no other available alternatives, we must comply in order to stop further loss of life,” the priest told Indian Link.

He also emphasised the role of the vaccine in restoring peace and certainty among people while calling it a sacrifice.

“The pandemic has caused much anxiety and pain to humans globally, and without a vaccine, humanity would suffer through this ordeal for who knows how long. While we cannot force everyone to have the same beliefs, I do support this vaccine. I would look at it as a sacrifice made to save lives and improving conditions of the current uncertain time the world is facing,” he explained.

READ ALSO: PM announces free COVID vaccine for all Australians

The Australian government plans to acquire the COVID-19 vaccine through a deal with the pharma company AstraZeneca. The vaccine developed by the University of Oxford will contain tissue from aborted foetal cells, which is a common element in various vaccines.

The Secretary of the National Sikh Council of Australia, Bawa Singh Jagdev named Hepatitis-A, Ebola and Rubella as diseases whose vaccines share similar development properties.

“Vaccines for ebola, rubella and Hep-A were developed with aborted foetal tissue since the 60s. I have no objection to get a vaccine that can save my life. In Sikhism, there is no such restriction,” he said.

He also said he would encourage everyone in the community to get vaccinated.

“So long as the vaccine works and can save lives, I will endorse it,” he told Indian Link.

Shia Muslim Imam leader, Hijjatul Islam Wal Muslemeen Maulana from the Qaim Foundation in Melbourne said more discourse needs to take place within the community’s authorities before taking a position regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.

“Before the Islamic position is announced, deeper studies need to be conducted with authorities in Iraq. Of course, we comply with the regulations of social distancing imposed by the government regarding the safety of the community, but the opinion about the vaccine is unclear,” he told Indian Link.

In addition, Nitin Doshi, President of the Shwetambar Jain Sangh explained that the use of the vaccine could potentially be impacted by religious beliefs held by Jains.

“While Jains must not harm living beings for their own benefit, it is an individual’s choice whether or not they want to take the vaccine. Depends on whether they consider religion or their health more important,” he told Indian Link.

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Bageshri Savyasachi
Bageshri Savyasachi
Truth-telling, tree-hugging journalist.

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