‘Calf Serum’ in Covaxin: Union Health Ministry Issues Clarification Over Social Media Claims

‘Calf Serum’ in Covaxin: Union Health Ministry Issues Clarification Over Social Media Claims

Social media posts have claimed that the coronavirus vaccine produced by Bharat Biotech, known as Covaxin, contains calf serum, leading to the issue being politicized. The Central Health Ministry has strongly objected to these claims, saying that “facts have been twisted and misrepresented.”

The ministry said that the newborn calf serum is used solely for the preparation and the growth of vero cells, pointing out that this method has been used for decades, including in vaccines for Influenza, Polio, and Rabies.

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“There have been some social media posts regarding composition of the Covaxin vaccine where it has been suggested that Covaxin vaccine contains the newborn calf serum. Facts have been twisted and misrepresented in these posts,” the Health Ministry said in a release. 

“Different kinds of bovine and other animal serum are standard enrichment ingredient used globally for vero cell growth. Vero cells are used to establish cell lives which help in production of vaccines,” the ministry added.

It went on to say that the vero cells are washed with chemicals and water (buffer) after the growth, to rid the cells of newborn calf serum. It is only then that these vero cells are infected with the coronavirus for viral growth, the ministry further said. 

“The vero cells are completely destroyed in the process of viral growth. Thereafter this grown virus is also killed (inactivated) and purified. This killed virus is then used to make the final vaccine, and in the final vaccine formulation no calf serum is used. Hence, the final vaccine (COVAXIN) does not contain newborn calf serum at all and the calf serum is not an ingredient of the final vaccine product,” it added.

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