Social media posts twisted facts, final product doesn't have newborn calf serum: Centre on Covaxin

This technique has been used for decades in developing vaccines against polio, rabies, and influenza.

Published: 16th June 2021 01:52 PM  |   Last Updated: 17th June 2021 08:18 AM   |  A+A-

Covaxin. (Photo | AP)

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI:  Contesting social media claims on Covaxin, the Union Health Ministry said on Wednesday that facts were ‘twisted and misrepresented’ in the posts. Meanwhile, Bharat Biotech said in a clarification that newborn calf serum was used in manufacturing of viral vaccines, but not in the final formulation. 

“There have been some social media posts regarding composition of the COVAXIN vaccine where it has been suggested that COVAXIN vaccine contains newborn calf serum,” said the ministry. “Newborn calf serum is used only for preparation/ growth of vero cells. 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 lines which help in production of vaccines. This technique has been used for decades in polio, rabies, and influenza vaccines,” the ministry said.

“These vero cells, after the growth, are washed with water, with chemicals (also technically known as buffer), many times to make it free from the newborn calf serum. These vero cells are infected with corona virus for viral growth.

“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 does not contain newborn calf serum at all and the calf serum is not an ingredient of the final vaccine product,” the statement said.

“Bovine serum is widely used in the manufacture of vaccines globally for decades. The usage of new born calf serum was transparently documented in the following publications since the last nine months,” said the statement.

This comes after the Congress party’s national coordination for digital communication and social media, Gaurav Pandhi tweeted an RTI response to one Vikas Patni from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation on the contents of Covaxin. It accused the Centre of betraying the ‘faith and belief’ of people.

Congress leader shows RTI document to support claim 
Congress leader Gaurav Pandhi has claimed that Covaxin made by Bharat Biotech contains serum of newborn calf. He shared an RTI document on Twitter, which was the response from the Central Drugs Controller General to RTI applicant Vikas Patni. “In an RTI response, the Modi Govt has admitted that Covaxin consists newborn calf serum .....which is a portion of clotted blood obtained from less than 20 days young calves, after slaughtering them. This is heinous! This information should have been made public before.”


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