Covid-19: No newborn calf serum in final Covaxin product, says Health ministry, Bharat Biotech

DN Bureau

The Union Health Ministry on Wednesday said that new born calf serum is not an ingredient of the final Covaxin vaccine by Bharat Biotech.


New Delhi: The Union Health Ministry on Wednesday said that newborn calf serum is not an ingredient of the final Covaxin vaccine by Bharat Biotech.

The ministry in a statement said that facts have been "twisted and misrepresented" in some social media posts which suggested that indigenously developed Covaxin contains newborn calf serum.

The Hyderabad-based vaccine manufacturer also in a statement said that while the serum is used in the process of making the vaccine, it is not present in the final formulated product.

Newborn calf serum is used only for the preparation and growth of vero cells and that serum from bovine and other animal are standard enrichment ingredient used globally for vero cell growth, the ministry of health and family welfare (MoFHW) said.

"Different kinds of bovine and other animal serum are standard enrichment ingredients used globally for Vero cell growth. Vero cells are used to establish cell lines that help in the production of vaccines. This technique has been used for decades in Polio, Rabies, and Influenza vaccines," the ministry said

These Vero cells, after the viral growth, are washed with water, with chemicals, technically known as buffer, many times to make it free from the newborn calf serum. Thereafter, these Vero cells are infected with coronavirus 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, according to the statement.

"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," the ministry said.

The Covaxin manufacturer Bharat Biotech too issued a statement regarding the social media posts misinterpreting the facts over the composition of the COVAXIN vaccine.

"Newborn calf serum is used in the manufacturing of viral vaccines. It is used for the growth of cells, but neither used in the growth of the SARS CoV2 virus nor in the final formulation. COVAXIN® is highly purified to contain only the inactivated virus components by removing all other impurities," Bharat Biotech's statement read.

"Bovine serum is widely used in the manufacture of vaccines globally for several decades. The usage of newborn calf serum was transparently documented in the following publications since the last nine months," it added. (ANI)

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