Fact Check: Calf serum used but not present in covaxin, says government

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Fact Check on Covaxin (Image tweeted by ANI)
Fact Check on Covaxin (Image tweeted by ANI)

New Delhi : The Union Health Ministry strongly condemned social media posts which claimed that Bharat Biotech's Covaxin contains calf serum and said that the information has been twisted and misrepresented in the posts.

"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 Union Health Ministry said.

The ministry clarified that the calf serum is used only for the production of vero cells, which is a common technique for decades in Polio, Rabies, and Influenza vaccines.

"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," it added.

The ministry further explained that the vero cells, after the growth, are washed with water and chemicals, also technically known as buffer, several times to make it free from the newborn calf serum. "Thereafter, these vero cells are infected with corona virus for viral growth,' it 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," the ministry said.

Conclusion: There is no calf serum present in Bharat Biotech's Covaxin; however, it is used to create vero cells and they get destroyed in the process of making the vaccine.