Here’s what you need to know:
The antibody cocktail for Covid-19 that President Trump touted on Wednesday afternoon was developed with cells originally derived from fetal tissue, a practice that the president had repeatedly condemned.
In June 2019, the Trump administration suspended federal funding for most new scientific research involving fetal tissue derived from abortions.
“Promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump’s administration,” the Department of Health and Human Services said in a prepared statement.
“Intramural research that requires new acquisition of fetal tissue from elective abortions will not be conducted,” the statement added.
Mr. Trump last week received Regeneron’s cocktail of monoclonal antibodies — essentially, antibodies synthesized in living cells and administered to help the body fight off the infection.
To develop the antibodies, Regeneron relied on 293T, a human cell line once derived from fetal tissue. At least two companies racing to produce vaccines against the coronavirus, Moderna and AstraZeneca, also are using the cell line.
Remdesivir, an antiviral drug Mr. Trump received, also was tested using these cells.
“293Ts were used in testing the antibodies’ ability to neutralize the virus,” said Alexandra Bowie, a spokeswoman for Regeneron. “They weren’t used in any other way, and fetal tissue was not used in the research.”
In a video released Wednesday, Mr. Trump praised Regeneron’s treatment, calling it a “cure” for Covid-19 and promising to provide it free to any patient who needed it. The company said on Wednesday that it had applied to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency use authorization.
Scientists noted that the trials of the antibody cocktail are far from complete, and that Mr. Trump is taking a variety of drugs that may have explained why he said he felt better.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In July, the International Society for Stem Cell Research sent a letter to the Human Fetal Tissue Research Ethics Advisory Board at the National Institutes of Health, urging the board to allow fetal tissue to be used to develop treatments for Covid-19 and for other diseases.
“Fetal tissue has unique and valuable properties that often cannot be replaced by other cell types,” the letter said.
In August, the board rejected 13 of the 14 proposals involving fetal tissue. The approved proposal relied on tissue that had already been acquired.
Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, said on Thursday that he had been avoiding the White House since midsummer because of concerns that officials there were not taking proper precautions to guard