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UAE Islamic body issues fatwa approving COVID-19 vaccine even with pork

A view from Hakan Cetinsaya Good Clinical Practice Center, where the candidate vaccine, developed by Erciyes University Proffessor Aykut Ozdarendeli against the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, is applied on healthy volunteers, on November 12, 2020 in Kayseri, Turkey [Esma Küçükşahin - Anadolu Agency]
A view from Hakan Cetinsaya Good Clinical Practice Center, where the candidate vaccine, developed by Erciyes University Proffessor Aykut Ozdarendeli against the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, is applied on healthy volunteers, on November 12, 2020 in Kayseri, Turkey [Esma Küçükşahin - Anadolu Agency]

The highest religious authority in the UAE, the Fatwa Council has issued a ruling permitting coronavirus vaccines for Muslims even if they contain pork gelatine.

The fatwa comes amid growing concerns among many Muslims for whom consuming pork products is haram (forbidden) that the COVID-19 vaccine contains pork gelatine, a common vaccine ingredient which acts as a stabiliser to ensure the vaccines remain effective during storage and transportation.

According to the council's Chairman Sheikh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, the coronavirus vaccines would not be subject to Islamic rulings on pork consumption due to the higher need to "protect the human body".

The council further emphasised that pork gelatine in this context serves a medicinal purpose and is not food.

READ: Turkish-German couple behind vaccine named FT 'People of the Year'

Last month, US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and German biotech firm BioNTech announced they had developed a vaccine for COVID-19 which is said to be 90 per cent effective in preventing the virus in its first interim efficacy analysis. The vaccine has already gained emergency approvals in several countries.

Although pork products being part of their vaccines has been ruled out by Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca – it is not yet clear if other vaccines in the market are gelatine-free.

On Sunday Dr Harunor Rashid, an associate professor at the University of Sydney, was quoted in a report by Haaretz, stating that the majority consensus from past debates over pork gelatine used in vaccines is that it is permissible under Islamic law, as "greater harm" would occur if the vaccines weren't used.

A similar ruling also applies to Orthodox Jews, as Rabbi David Stav, chairman of Tzohar, a rabbinical organisation in Israel was quoted as saying: "According to the Jewish law, the prohibition on eating pork or using pork is only forbidden when it's a natural way of eating it."

READ: Qatar, Oman to receive Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine this week

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