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Faulty vaccine scandal sparks outrage in China

HONG KONG (UCAN): Paul, a doctor in China said that revelations that major vaccine makers violated safety standards showed that the country has no moral boundaries, leading people to do whatever they want for their own interests. He quoted a priest in his parish who said: “China’s leaders and bigwigs at all levels have no beliefs and no moral boundaries, so they will do whatever they want.”
 
Public anger has been mounting since the information came to light in July.
 
In November 2017, the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) announced that Changsheng Biotechnology Co. and the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products had produced sub-standard DPT (diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus) vaccines which had been administered to more than 400,000 children as young as three months old in Shandong, Chongqing and Hebei provinces.
 
However, Changsheng only received a penalty letter about the inferior vaccine from regulatory authorities on July 17, almost nine months after the incident was revealed.
 
On July 15, the CFDA issued a circular stating that Changsheng had also produced a rabies vaccine with fraudulent production records. Production of the vaccine was halted.
 
Police detained Gao Junfang, the chairperson of Changsheng, on July 24 along with 14 other executives and staff suspected of criminal offenses.
 
Public trust is being eroded as is China’s standing overseas as it tries to become a major player in the pharmaceutical industry.
 
While the president, Xi Jinping, has ordered a thorough investigation, Paul, whose medical practice is in Shaanxi, said that the scandal reflected the weak supervision of authorities.
 
“Authorities only deal with the heads of several vaccine makers. It is totally irresponsible,” he said, adding that Chinese media are concealing the truth about the scandal.
 
Since 2004, China has witnessed several cases of faulty or fake vaccines. In 2010, nearly 100 children in Shanxi province died or were disabled after vaccinations.
 
Maria, a mother of two, said that her two-year-old child was inoculated with a vaccine produced by Changsheng. She is worried that her child will have sequela (adverse after-effect) with a faulty shot. “It has recently been reported that if the vaccine is re-injected, it will not tell which manufacturer it is,” she said.
 
She demanded to know who would take responsibility if her child has problems with a vaccination. “Even if officials arrest the makers, they have not mentioned any compensation.”
 
Meanwhile AsiaNews reported that comment being censored on social media, noting that the Journalism and Media Studies Centre at the University of Hong Kong, which monitors censorship on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblog, found the Chinese word for “vaccine” was one of the most restricted.
 
One post that was censored by said: “When everyone in the country is rushing to get milk powder and vaccines elsewhere … more people will understand why Hong Kong and Macau are rejecting the (mainland) system.”

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