For India, which is recovering from a deadly second wave of coronavirus infections, getting its citizens vaccinated is a challenge. On the one hand, there is a shortage of vaccines and, on the other hand, the forebodings related to the vaccines are confusing people.
The latest case is related to Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. INC’s national coordinator Gaurav Pandhi accused the government of playing with the sentiments of the people by quoting an RTI, alleging that the Covaxin jab ‘consists newborn calf serum’
Many other social media users also shared this claim.
As per the claims doing rounds on social media, Covaxin consists of newborn calf serum, a portion of clotted blood obtained from less than 20 days of young cow calves after slaughtering them. However, the government and Bharat Biotech have denied the allegation.
Health Ministry, Bharat Biotech Deny Allegation
According to the clarification issued by the government on 16 June 2021,
There have been some social media posts regarding the composition of the COVAXIN vaccine where it has been suggested that the COVAXIN vaccine contains the newborn calf serum.
Facts have been twisted and misrepresented in these posts.
Newborn Calf Serum is used only for the preparation/ growth of Vero cells. Different kinds of bovine and other animal serum 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. 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 a buffer), many times to make it free from the newborn calf serum. Thereafter, these Vero cells are infected with coronavirus for viral growth.
The Vero cells are 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.
Bharat Biotech responded to Newschecker’s query and denied the use of newborn calf serum in COVAXIN. The statement by Bharat Biotech is below:
((Newborn calf serum is used in the manufacturing of viral vaccines. It is used for the growth of cells, but neither used in the growth of the SARS CoV2 virus nor the final formulation.
COVAXIN® is highly purified to contain only the inactivated virus components by removing all other impurities.
Bovine serum is widely used in the manufacture of vaccines globally for several decades. The usage of newborn calf serum was transparently documented in the following publications for the last nine months.
Hamster Efficacy Study — https://doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2021.102054
Non-Human Primate Efficacy Study — https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-21639-w
Preclinical Safety and Immunogenicity — https://doi.org/10.1016/j.isci.2021.102298
Neutralization of UK Variant (B.1.1.7) — https://doi.org/10.1093/jtm/taab051
Neutralization of South Africa Variant (B.1.351) and Delta Variant (B.1.617.2) —))
Bharat Biotech has also mentioned the ingredients of COVAXIN on their website under covaxin-factsheet.
To check the authenticity of the RTI, we contacted Vikas Patni, whose name is written on the viral RTI. This article will be updated after we receive a response.
The claim made by Congress’ Gaurav Pandhi is not valid. Newborn calf serum is not used in making COVAXIN, says the manufacturer.
|Claim Review: Newborn Calf Serum Used In COVAXIN|
Claimed By: Gaurav Pandhi
Ministry Of Health
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