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Fact Check: No newborn calf serum in Covaxin, Health Ministry and Bharat Biotech confirm

The final vaccine does not contain newborn calf serum at all as the calf serum is not an ingredient of the final vaccine product, Health Ministry said

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Fact Check: No newborn calf serum in Covaxin, Health Ministry and Bharat Biotech confirm
(Image Source: IANS)
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The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Wednesday refuted claims made on social media alleging Bharat Biotech's Covaxin contains newborn calf serum. The Hyderabad-based drug manufacturing company also clarified that while the serum is used in the process of making the vaccine, it is not present in the final product.

Bharat Biotech has clarified the calf serum is used only for the preparation or growth of Vero cells. The company said the final vaccine (Covaxin) does not contain newborn calf serum at all and it is not an ingredient of the final vaccine product.

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, it said. This technique has been used for decades in Polio, Rabies, and Influenza vaccines.

"Covaxin is highly purified to contain only inactivated virus components by removing other impurities," the pharma company added. 

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 Health Ministry's statement affirmed.

How calf serum is used?

Newborn calf serum is used only for the preparation and growth of Vero cells.

Serum from bovine and other animals are standard enrichment ingredients used globally for Vero cell growth.

Vero cells are used to establish cell lives which help in the production of vaccines.

After growth, the Vero cells are washed in water and with chemicals multiple times to make them free from newborn calf serum.

The Vero cells are then infected with coronavirus for viral growth.

The Vero cells are completely destroyed in the process of viral growth.

Thereafter, the grown virus is also killed (inactivated) and purified.

The killed or inactivated virus is then used to make the final vaccine. 

No calf serum is used in the formulation of the final vaccine, according to the company statement.

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