Sydney, August 30: Covishield, a potential vaccine against coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, is facing ire of Muslim and Christian clerics in Australia over the use of fetal cells in its development. The vaccine is developed by Oxford University and British-Swedish pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca. While an imam called Covishield haram or prohibited for Muslims, a senior Catholic archbishop has said that the potential COVID-19 vaccine creates an “ethical quandary” for Christians. COVID-19 Vaccine Update: Australian Coronavirus Vaccine Yields Positive Pre-Clinical Results.

Covisheild is being developed with cells derived from human fetuses electively aborted in the 1970s and developed in a laboratory. Islam prohibits abortion. Similarly, a large section of people following Christianity is also against abortion. Sufyaan Khalifa, a controversial imam in Australia, recently posted a video on his YouTube channel in which he slammed the methodology adopted by Oxford University-AstraZeneca to develop Covishield. COVID-19 Vaccine Latest News Update: After Sputnik V, Three More Coronavirus Vaccines Being Registered, Says Russia.

“Shame on some Muslim bodies justifying the use of the vaccine. Shame on any imam who did sign this fatwah,” Khalifa said in the video. Earlier, Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher wrote a letter to Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, saying he is "deeply troubled" by the country's deal with AstraZeneca to manufacture the COVID-19 vaccine. He urged Morrison to go for other “ethical” vaccine candidates to ensure religious objectors have a choice.

The letter was signed by Anglican and Greek Orthodox religious leaders. Referring to Archbishop Anthony Fisher's letter, Khalifa said: "The Catholics have stood up against this clearly because they know it’s haram, it’s unlawful. But you stand with the government instead." According to a government spokesperson, Australia also has signed a deal for the University of Queensland’s vaccine candidate, which he said, does not contain fetal cell lines.

The spokesperson had said that the government is "investing in research and technology that we hope will produce a range of vaccines that will be suitable for as many Australians as possible", Hindustan Times reported.

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Aug 30, 2020 04:25 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website