Does the Canadian Muslim COVID-19 Task Force (CMCTF) or the Muslim Medical Association of Canada (MMAC) receive compensation for vaccine endorsement or any compensation from pharmaceutical companies?
No. The CMCTF and the MMAC have not ever received financial compensation from pharmaceutical companies for any of their initiatives. Nor will we accept any other incentive for any of our position statements on vaccines, including the COVID-19 vaccines. Our position is based on the best available evidence (at the time of writing) and the wellbeing of patients and our community
Why is a Muslim organization getting involved in vaccine promotion?
The Canadian Muslim COVID-19 Task Force (CMCTF) is comprised of Muslim medical, spiritual and community organizations from coast to coast. The Muslim Medical Association of Canada (MMAC) is the steering medical organization of this task force and is comprised of practising Canadian Muslim physicians that work to promote healthy communities at a regional, national and international level.
For decades, Muslim physicians and governments, both in Canada and abroad, have actively promoted vaccinations as effective measures in preventing illness and death from preventable diseases. Increasing misinformation, mistrust, concerns regarding Islamic permissibility and geopolitical tensions have contributed towards lower vaccination rates within Muslim communities. Canadian Muslim physicians and Imams are also receiving lots of questions about COVID-19 vaccines from community members.
As a safe and effective measure that can help reduce the burden of illness and lives lost due to COVID-19 during this pandemic, this is of particular importance given that for a number of reasons, many Canadian Muslims are at higher risk of becoming infected with and experiencing complications of COVID-19. The CMCTF therefore aims to address any barriers which may needlessly hinder uptake of the COVID-19 vaccines within these communities.
This task force’s positions regarding the COVID-19 vaccines are based on the guidance and recommendations of Health Canada, the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), Canadian Muslim physicians from the Muslim Medical Association of Canada (MMAC) and religious leaders from the Canadian Council of Imams (CCI).
Religious affiliation and immunization coverage in 15 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa
Outbreak of vaccine-preventable diseases in Muslim majority countries
How Were the COVID-19 Vaccines Approved so Quickly?
The genome, or genetic sequence, of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has been known since January 10, 2020 and since then, over 100 teams of researchers across the world have been working to develop vaccines. Although typically it takes a couple of years before vaccines become approved for use, there are a number of reasons why several different teams and companies were able to independently develop vaccines so quickly.
Through an unprecedented collaborative effort between scientists, pharmaceutical companies and governments, development of these COVID-19 vaccines were given top priority with heavy funding to build on decades of previous foundational coronavirus research and more than 10 years of mRNA research, removal of administrative barriers and running parts of clinical trials in parallel. mRNA vaccines are quicker, easier and cheaper to produce than traditional vaccines. The widespread nature of COVID-19 also made it easier to recruit subjects for the clinical trials from different countries. This is a remarkable feat of modern science and technology, and a testament to what we can accomplish by working together.
In the third phase of the clinical trials, both the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines were tested in 30,000 to 45,000 participants, a large enough number to guarantee the validity of the results when it comes to how safe and effective any medication is. All vaccines being considered for approval still go through the independent rigorous process of ensuring all steps were executed and that they are effective, safe and high quality according to Health Canada’s standards. These vaccines were shown to be 95% effective in reducing the severity of COVID-19 regardless of age group, gender and ethnoracial group. While having received emergency regulatory approval for use given the millions that have died from this infectious disease already, both these vaccines will continue to have ongoing long-term studies that will assess both long-term safety and effectiveness.
Should We Be Concerned About Long Term Side Effects with These Newly Approved COVID-19 Vaccines?
There is no current evidence that the Pfizer-BioNTech or the Moderna COVID-19 vaccines cause long-term side effects. In the clinical trials, the participants were followed for upto 2 months after receiving the COVID-19 vaccines and the majority of side effects, if any, occur within the first six weeks. Follow-up studies will monitor for any long term or additional side effects as the vaccine is rolled out on a much larger scale in real-world settings. mRNA vaccines have been used for many years with excellent safety profiles and no significant long-term side effects to-date.
What Are the Ingredients of the COVID-19 Vaccines?
Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 Vaccine
This mRNA is not the actual virus. It is a synthetically produced set of instructions to help your body recognize parts of the virus so that you can build antibodies and develop immunity against it.
30 mcg of a modified messenger RNA (modRNA) encoding the viral spike glycoprotein of SARS-CoV-2
Fats help the mRNA to enter your cells .These are confirmed non-animal (plant or synthetic) fats that protect the mRNA so it doesn’t get broken down before it enters the cell and releases the mRNA.
0.43 mg ALC-0315 = (4-hydroxybutyl)azanediyl)bis(hexane-6,1-diyl)bis(2-hexyldecanoate)
0.05 mg ALC-0159 = 2[(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide
0.09 mg 1,2-distearoyl-sn-glycero-3- phosphocholine
0.2 mg cholesterol
Salts help match the vaccine and to your own body’s salt makeup and composition.
Sugar keeps the vaccine stable while it is stored in the freezer
There is no aluminum, mercury, or any components of animal origin in the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
0.01 mg potassium chloride
0.01 mg monobasic potassium
mg sodium chloride
0.07 mg dibasic sodium phosphate dihydrate
What Specific Ingredient(s) in the COVID-19 Vaccines are Allergenic?
Individuals can be allergic to any ingredient or component of any vaccine and this may not be known until one receives the vaccine. With the recently approved COVID-19 vaccines, initial reports suggest that allergic reactions seem to occur due to one particular compound, polyethylene glycol (PEG) or 2[(polyethylene glycol)-2000]-N,N-ditetradecylacetamide. This is a fat commonly used in other vaccines and is widely used in cosmetics, medications (e.g. cough syrups, laxatives) and food. There may be additional components within the vaccines that may cause allergic reactions. For this reason, people with allergies to any of the ingredients of the COVID-19 vaccines should not receive them.
Severe allergic reactions are quite rare, and when they do occur, 70% of them take place within 10-15 minutes of vaccination. For this reason, patients are monitored for at least 15 minutes after receiving the vaccine and immunization clinics are well equipped to be able to safely treat any individual experiencing an allergic reaction.
Do the COVID-19 Vaccines Affect our DNA?
The approved Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are mRNA vaccines. These vaccines work by entering our cells and releasing mRNA, which contains the recipe to produce part of the coronavirus’ surface spike protein. Our immune system recognizes these newly made proteins (that have no potential to cause illness themselves) as foreign, and then trains our “fighter cells” or antibodies to attack the virus if we encounter it in the future. Once our cells have finished using the mRNA’s instructions, the mRNA disintegrates.
mRNA vaccines have been successfully used for several years in the treatment of cancers and other infectious diseases with no significant long-term safety concerns to-date. It is important to recognize that mRNA does not enter the nucleus of our cells, where our DNA is stored so there is no risk to our DNA from these mRNA vaccines.
Are There Animal Products or Haram Ingredients in the COVID-19 Vaccines and are they Islamically Permissible?
The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines are both mRNA vaccines that DO NOT contain any animal products (including pork) or Haram ingredients.
Multiple Islamic fiqh authorities, fatwa-issuing bodies and Muslim medical associations, including the Muslim Medical Association of Canada and the Canadian Council of Imams, have taken the position that
these vaccines are permissible and Halal.
Vaccines are medicines that prevent illness and save lives, making them congruent with the main objectives of the Islamic Sharia. Canadian Muslims should therefore consider it a duty and obligation to protect themselves, their families and their community. The vaccines are already being recommended by the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah, and will likely become a requirement in the near future.
Will COVID-19 Vaccines be Mandatory for Hajj or Umrah?
The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Health (MOH) currently requires pilgrims wishing to obtain an Entry Visa for Hajj and Umrah to receive several vaccines, depending on the traveller’s country of origin. Canadians are currently required to provide evidence of recent vaccination against meningococcal meningitis.
As of January 6, 2021, the Ministry of Hajj and Umrah has recommended Muslims planning to perform Umrah receive the COVID-19 vaccines beforehand. It is likely that this may become a requirement before Hajj and Umrah are restored to full capacity. More information is expected in the coming months, as different vaccines are being rolled out across the world on different timeframes.
Coronavirus: Saudi Arabia’s Hajj, Umrah minister advises pilgrims to get vaccinated