No calf serum in final Covaxin dose : Bharat Biotech

A calf serum has been used in revival of vero cells which is used for the manufacture of Covaxin exposed in a RTI.

The controversy came into light  a day earlier, when an RTI filed by a person identified as Vikas Patni revealed that new calf serum has been used in revival of vero cells which is used for the production of Covaxin.

Later, the Hyderabad-based Bharat Biotech on June 16, Wednesday issued a statement saying that the final Covaxin dose administered to people does not have newborn calf serum.

“Newborn Calf Serum is used only for 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 production of vaccines. This technique has been used for decades in Polio, Rabies, and Influenza vaccines,” the Union government said in a release.

“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 government added.

The government said that these vero cells are completely destroyed in the process of viral growth and so 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 health ministry said.

“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 Union government said.