Govt clarifies claims of production of Covaxin via calf serum


Does Covaxin, developed by Bharat Biotech in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research, contain serum of the newborn calf? As an RTI document shared by Congress’s Gaurav Pandhi has gone viral, the government dismissed such “twisted and misrepresented” facts. Calf serum is involved in the process of developing the vaccine but the finished product does not contain calf serum, the government claimed, adding that this is the standard process of preparing Vero cells and a similar procedure is used across the world. This is also the process used for decades in Polio, Rabies and Influenza vaccines.

“Newborn calf serum is used only for preparation/ 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 lives which help in the production of vaccines. This technique has been used for decades in Polio, Rabies, and Influenza vaccines,” the government said.

After the growth, these Vero cells are washed with water and buffer. And the washing process gets repeated multiple times which effectively remove calf serum from the vero cells. Then these cells are infected with Coronavirus for the development of the vaccine.

During the time of the growth of the virus, the Vero cells are completely destroyed and then the virus is killed and purified. From that inactivated virus, the vaccine is developed. “Hence, the final vaccine does not contain newborn calf serum at all and the calf serum is not an ingredient of the final vaccine product,” the government clarified.

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