No newborn calf serum in final Covaxin shot: Health Ministry

Standard practice to use animal serum for vero cell growth at preparatory stage and then wash it off completely

No newborn calf serum in final Covaxin shot: Health Ministry

Photo for representation only.

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 16

Amid a social media debate on the constitution of made in India Covid shot Covaxin, the government on Wednesday clarified that 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.

“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.

The government said newborn calf serum is used only for preparation and growth of vero cells and 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. This technique has been used for decades in Polio, Rabies, and Influenza vaccines. 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. Then these vero cells are infected with corona virus for viral growth. The vero cells are completely destroyed in the process of viral growth. This grown virus is also killed (inactivated) and purified,” the government explained under a statement titled “vaccine myths versus facts”.

The ministry said the killed virus is then used to make the final vaccine, and in the final vaccine formulation no calf serum is used. 

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