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No newborn calf serum in Covaxin, says health ministry

“Newborn calf serum is used only for preparation and growth of vero cells”


Newborn calf serum is not an ingredient of the final Covaxin product of Bharat Biotech, the Union health ministry said on Wednesday, adding that facts have been twisted and misrepresented in some of the social media posts in this regard.

“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,” the ministry said.

It said newborn calf serum is used only for preparation and 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 clarified.

It further 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. 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,” said the ministry.


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