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American Life League Proudly Supports Herd Immunity Study

For Immediate Release

 WASHINGTON, D.C. (27 April 2021) – American Life League is honored to announce that we are providing grant funding to support a research study at Franciscan University of Steubenville that will determine the extent to which the campus has reached herd immunity. The project, led by biology professor Dr. Kyle McKenna, will evaluate immune responses to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus utilizing testing procedures that specifically do not use materials produced in cell lines derived from aborted children.

In March, Dr. McKenna and his students, in conjunction with the school’s nursing program, began drawing blood from over 300 students, faculty, and staff on campus. McKenna indicated that immune responses in the student population are particularly interesting because this age group has only recently been eligible to receive COVID-19 vaccines. Correspondingly, immune responses in this population are primarily through natural exposure to coronavirus. McKenna states: “We want to know what percentage of people on campus demonstrate an immune response to SARS-CoV-2 virus. To achieve herd immunity which limits transmission of the virus, you need at least 60 to 70 percent of a given population to be resistant to infection, either through exposure to the virus or vaccination.”

As a Catholic scientist, McKenna says the project was also a response to the Pontifical Academy for Life’s call for “alternatives” to the use of aborted fetal cell lines in medicine and research. Most tests that evaluate SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus immune responses use materials produced in HEK 293 cells—a cell line derived from an elective abortion. McKenna states that “care was taken to select and modify a commercially available antibody test so that no cell lines that were derived from aborted fetal tissue were used to produce reagents for the test.” The eventual goal, he says, is to develop an in-house test that is free from the use of cell lines derived from aborted fetal tissue.

Pro-life scientists and doctors are often faced with a conflict of conscience as products made with aborted fetal tissue cell lines are commonplace in medicine and medical research. This common ethical quandary, combined with a clear need for coronavirus-specific immune response testing, inspired McKenna’s herd immunity project.

Dr. McKenna wants this project to serve as proof that alternatives exist that are equally effective to the use of aborted fetal tissue cell lines.

American Life League has worked for decades calling for ethical practices in science and medicine, so it only made sense that our organization would support this groundbreaking project.

American Life League is proud to work with Dr. McKenna and his research team. We believe they will provide invaluable research for the fight against COVID-19 and research that will aid in promoting ethical science and medicine around the world.  


American Life League is the nation’s oldest grassroots, Catholic, pro-life organization. Its president, Judie Brown, has led the organization since its 1979 beginning. She has served three terms on the Pontifical Academy for Life—appointed twice by Pope John Paul II and again by Pope Benedict XVI.