Hyderabad: Gaurav Pandhi, National Coordinator, Digital Communications & Social Media at @INCIndia has shared an image of the RTI application with questions and answers with question no.8 highlighted. He shared the image with the caption "In an RTI response, the Modi Govt has admitted that COVAXIN consists Newborn Calf Serum .....which is a portion of clotted blood obtained from less than 20 days young cow-calves, after slaughtering them. THIS IS HEINOUS! This information should have been made public before."
The 8th question highlighted in the RTI application is "Does vaccines procedures used FBS in making of corona vaccines in any form, composition, or ingredient made by Bharat Biotech, Serum Institute and approved by the Indian Government or departments?
The answer given by RTI, to this question is "As per information provided by the firm, newborn calf serum is used in the revival process of Vero cells which is used for the production of coronavirus during the manufacturing of COVAXIN bulk vaccine of M/s Bharat Biotech.
This image is shared with the claim implying that Calf Serum is one of the ingredients of Covaxin.
The claim that Calf Serum is one of the ingredients of the covaxin vaccine is MISLEADING.
According to pib.gov.in, the facts have been twisted and misrepresented.
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 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.
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.
According to the fact sheet released by COVAXIN contains 6ug of whole-virion inactivated SARS-CoV-2 antigen (strain: NIV-2020-770), and the other inactive ingredients such as aluminium hydroxide gel (250ug), TLR 7/8 against (imidazoquinolinone) 15ug, 2-phenoxyethanol 2.5mg, and phosphate buffer saline up to 0.5ml. The vaccine thus has been developed by using inactivated/ killed virus along with the aforementioned chemicals.
Here are the publications by Bharat biotech:
ANI has also tweeted a clarification by Bharat Biotech that "Newborn calf serum is used in the manufacturing of viral vaccines. It's used for cells' growth, but neither used in the growth of the SARS CoV2 virus nor in the final formulation. COVAXIN is highly purified to contain only inactivated virus components by removing other impurities."
It further adds that Bharat Biotech issued a statement that "Bovine serum is widely used in the manufacture of vaccines globally for several decades. The usage of newborn calf serum was transparently documented in several publications including Hamster Efficacy Study over the last 9 months"
Hence, the claim that Calf Serum is one of the ingredients of the Covaxin vaccine is MISLEADING. The final vaccine does not contain newborn calf serum at all and the calf serum is not an ingredient of the final vaccine product.