What type of vaccine is AstraZeneca?

The AstraZeneca vaccine is a viral vector vaccine. These types of vaccines use harmless viruses as a mode of transport for genetic material to be delivered into our cells. The genetic material contains a code that gives our cells instructions for how to make copies of the surface protein, called the spike protein, found on the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

The spike proteins stimulate an immune response and provide protection against the COVID-19 disease the next time your body encounters it.  

The virus vector used in this vaccine has been modified so that it cannot replicate. It is a non-live vaccine. 

What does AstraZeneca contain?

The AstraZeneca vaccine contains a harmless animal virus (a viral vector). In this vaccine, the viral vector is an adenovirus called ChAdOx1, which causes the common cold in chimpanzees. A viral vector acts as a ‘delivery vehicle’ to package and deliver the genetic code it deposits into our cells. This genetic code instructs our cells how create copies of the COVID-19 spike protein. This package is the key ingredient in the AstraZeneca vaccine. 

Other ingredients also help to keep the vaccine stable during storage, such as ethanol as a preservative, polysorbate 80 as an emulsifier to keep the water and oil-based ingredients together, sugar and an amino acid call L-Histidine. 

To learn more about COVID-19 vaccine ingredients, visit the Ministry of Health information here: https://www.health.qld.gov.au/news-events/news/whats-really-in-a-covid-19-vaccine

How is the AstraZeneca vaccine made?

There are many different types of vaccines, and each are manufactured in different ways. For viral vector vaccines, like the AstraZeneca vaccine, the viral vector is manufactured inside cells in a laboratory, and the genetic code is inserted into this harmless, modified virus. 

A human cell line, called HEK-293, is used during this manufacturing process for the AstraZeneca vaccine. This cell line was originally derived from a legally aborted foetus in 1973, and cells derived from that original cell line are used to manufacture the viral vector. 

This is known to be a safe and efficient way to produce vaccines. No cells from the manufacturing process remain in the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The Catholic Church has issued a formal statement stating it is morally acceptable to use vaccines that have used cell lines in the manufacturing process: https://www.cacatholic.org/CCC-vaccine-moral-acceptability


Last updated: 14 April 2022