Congress leader Pawan Khera also demanded a clarification from the government over the claim that cow-calves were slaughtered to manufacture Covaxin.
Covaxin Vaccine Controversy: After raising questions in the past, the Congress party today yet again levelled serious allegations against Covaxin and its manufacturing process, accusing the government of hiding facts. However, a clarification in this regard was soon issued by the Centre refuting the allegations.
Gaurav Pandhi of the Congress social media team shared a screenshot of an RTI response from the Central Drugs Standard Control Organisation, claiming that cow calves are slaughtered to obtain the serum used in manufacturing Covaxin. “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,” claimed Pandhi.
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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. pic.twitter.com/sngVr0cE29
— Gaurav Pandhi (@GauravPandhi) June 15, 2021
Congress leader Pawan Khera also demanded a clarification from the government. “We would like the government and Bharat Biotech to respond to the reply that has come in the RTI, then we will give a detailed response on it,” said Khera.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, however, said that the claims have been made by twisting and misrepresenting the facts.
“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,” said a clarification issued by the ministry.
It said that these Vero cells are washed with water and chemicals many times after growth to make them free from the newborn calf serum. “Thereafter, these vero cells are infected with coronavirus for viral growth,” it said.
The health ministry said that 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,” said the ministry.
Bharat Biotech also issued a clarification after the uproar. “Newborn calf serum is used in the manufacturing of viral vaccines. It’s used for cells’ growth, but neither used in the growth of SARS CoV2 virus nor in the final formulation. COVAXIN is highly purified to contain only inactivated virus components by removing other impurities,” said Bharat Biotech.
The vaccine company said that Bovine serum has been 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,” it stated.
Political leader and analyst Shehzad Poonawalla also slammed the Congress over the claim. “Congress is back to spreading lies & fakery about Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin. Deliberately spreading hate/fake news/communal agenda to ensure people hesitate to take vaccines. Covaxin uses the same standard practice used for all vaccines for the last 50 years including Polio,” he said.