COVID-19 treatment touted by Trump was tested with cells drawn from fetal tissue

A COVID-19 treatment used by President TrumpDonald John TrumpFive takeaways from the vice presidential debate Harris accuses Trump of promoting voter suppression Pence targets Biden over ISIS hostages, brings family of executed aid worker to debate MORE during his illness was tested using a cell line derived from a human fetus, even though his administration opposes the use of aborted fetuses for scientific purposes.

Regeneron’s antibody cocktail, touted by Trump as a “cure” for COVID-19, was tested using a cell line originally derived from human embryonic kidney cells from an abortion performed in the Netherlands in the 1970s.

The cell line was used to test whether the antibody cocktail could neutralize the coronavirus. The cells are considered “immortalized,” meaning they divide indefinitely.

However, fetal tissue was not used in research for the antibody cocktail, and neither human stem cells nor human embryonic stem cells were used in development, a Regeneron spokesperson said in a statement.

The Trump administration last year banned the National Institutes of Health from using fetal tissue in research and said outside proposals funded by the agency must undergo an ethics review.

The cell line derived from the aborted fetus is a common and widespread tool in research labs and is old enough that it is not prohibited under the Trump administration’s rules. 

Anti-abortion groups, which pushed the Trump administration to end the use of fetal tissue in research, also have not expressed concern about the use of the cell line.

The Charlotte Lozier Institute, an anti-abortion research group, said in a statement it had reviewed the published information about Regeneron and didn’t take issue with it.

“The president was not given any medicines to treat COVID-19 that involved the destruction of human life,” said research director David Prentice and Tara Sander Lee, senior fellow at the institute, in a joint statement.

“No human embryonic stem cells or human fetal tissue were used to produce the treatments President Trump received–period,” they added.

Trump touted the antibody cocktail as a “cure” for COVID-19.

“It was incredible the impact it had,” he said in a video he tweeted Thursday.

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