Monday, December 21, 2020

Is the COVID vaccine halal? Yes, that's a real question

Well, this is something that the COVID-19 vaccine developers probably didn't think too hard about, concerned as they were with saving thousands of lives. Is the vaccine halal?

You might think this is a minor consideration in the scheme of things, along the lines of "is the vaccine gluten-free?" or "is the vaccine macrobiotic?" But this is apparently a big deal for millions of Muslims (and Jews) across the world, for whom the consumption of pork products is considered deeply unclean and religiously unacceptable.

It turns out that a pork-derived gelatin is often used as a stabilizer in vaccines, and there have been high-level discussions in the Muslim world as to whether a pork gelatin ingredient which then undergoes a rigorous chemical transformation is still considered religiously impure - for the record, the consensus seems to be no, on the grounds that a greater harm would occur if the vaccines weren't used. But there will always be zealots who will take  their own path on this, I guess. Like we need more obstacles in the way of achieving herd immunity.

Currently, Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca have all confirmed that their vaccines do not use pork gelatin, but some of the other COVID vaccines are not yet certified gelatin-free. Personally, I'm vegetarian, but I'm sure as hell not going to insist on seeing the recipe before I get vaccinated. 

No comments: