Jun 6, 2019

Scientists are concerned with Trump's fetal tissue ban

HHS Secretary Alex Azar, President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence. Photo: Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration announced yesterday that it will no longer fund medical research that uses fetal tissue, drawing the ire of scientists and research groups.

The big picture: While scientists say that there is no equally effective alternative to fetal tissue in research, opponents of its use say that some newer methods show potential, the Washington Post reports.

  • The administration will also end a multi-million dollar contract with a lab at the University of California, San Francisco that uses fetal tissue to test new HIV therapies.
  • "Promoting the dignity of human life from conception to natural death is one of the very top priorities of President Trump’s administration," HHS said in a statement.

The impact: The National Institutes of Health funds about 200 external research products that use fetal tissue, which will be unaffected. There are only 3 NIH-run projects that will be impacted.

  • Future grant applicants will be reviewed by an ethics advisory board.

What they're saying: While the move is supported by anti-abortion advocates, scientists say it's an impediment to finding new medical treatments.

  • The new rules "further erode the unique potential fetal tissue research holds for addressing such critical objectives as fighting blindness, ending Parkinson's disease, and advancing maternal and child health," Research!America said in a statement.
  • "Valuable research that is directed at helping to develop therapies for terrible diseases will be stopped," Larry Goldstein, a distinguished professor in the University of California, San Diego, told the Washington Post.

Go deeper: Trump administration adds new restrictions for fetal tissue research

Go deeper

Coronavirus dashboard

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  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 5,410,228 — Total deaths: 345,105 — Total recoveries — 2,169,005Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 3 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil, coronavirus hotspot in Southern Hemisphere Over 100 coronavirus cases in Germany tied to single day of church services — Boris Johnson backs top aide amid reports that he broke U.K. lockdown while exhibiting symptoms.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks headed into Memorial Day weekend Report finds "little evidence" coronavirus under control in most statesHurricanes, wildfires, the flu could strain COVID-19 response
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election — Public employees brace for layoffs.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
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U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.

World coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Axios Visuals

Japan's economy minister outlined plans on Monday to end the nationwide state of emergency as the number of new novel coronavirus cases continues to decline to fewer than 50 a day, per Bloomberg. Japan has reported 16,550 cases and 820 deaths.

By the numbers: Over 5.4 million people have tested positive for the virus as of Monday, and more than 2.1 million have recovered. The U.S. has reported the most cases in the world (over 1.6 million from 13.7 million tests). The U.K. is reporting over 36,800 deaths from the coronavirus — the most fatalities outside the U.S.