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Does Covaxin Contain Calf Serum? Govt Clarifies

New Delhi: Reacting to social media posts suggesting that the COVAXIN vaccine contains newborn calf serum, the government has said that the facts have been twisted and misrepresented.


“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 Union Health Ministry said.

The reports of ‘newborn calf serum’ in the vaccine-making process come amid several conspiracy theories. When it comes to COVID-19 vaccines, misinformation is on the rise resulting in vaccine hesitancy.

Clarifying the use of calf serum, the Union Health Ministry said, “Newborn Calf Serum is used only for the 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, it added.

These Vero cells, after the growth, are washed with water, with chemicals (also technically known as a buffer), many times to make it free from the newborn calf serum. Thereafter, these Vero cells are infected with the 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, the ministry added.