Concern among Muslims over halal status of Covid-19 vaccine

Concern among Muslims over halal status of Covid-19 vaccine
A man leaves as 'halal' logo of Indonesian Ulema Council is displayed on the facade of a restaurant in Jakarta, Indonesia. Source: AP
2 Min Read

Daily US Times: In October, some diplomats and Muslim clerics from Indonesia stepped off a plane in China. While the delegates were there to finalize deals to ensure millions of coronavirus vaccine doses reached Indonesian citizens, the clerics had a much different concern: Whether the vaccine was permissible for use under Islamic law, meaning it is halal for Muslims or not.

As companies race to develop vaccine to immunise Covid-19 and countries scramble to secure doses to their citizens, questions about the use of pork products — banned by some religious groups — has raised concerns about the possibility of disrupted immunization campaigns.

Pork-derived gelatin has been widely used as a stabilizer to ensure vaccines remain effective and safe during transport and storage. Some companies have worked for years to develop halal pork-free vaccines: Saudi- and Malaysia-based AJ Pharma is currently working on one of their own and Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis has produced a pork-free meningitis vaccine.

But Dr. Salman Waqar, general secretary of the British Islamic Medical Association, said that existing supply chains, demand, cost and the shorter shelf life of vaccines not containing porcine gelatin means the ingredient is likely to continue to be used in a majority of vaccines for upcoming years.

Spokespeople for Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca have said that pork products are not part of their coronavirus vaccines. But limited supply and preexisting deals worth millions of dollars with other companies means that some countries like Indonesia, who has large Muslim populations, will receive vaccines that have not yet been certified to be gelatin-free.

You may read: Congress seals agreement on $900 billion Covid relief bill