Mass outrage in China over faulty vaccine scandal

Mass outrage in China over faulty vaccine scandal

China's drug regulator has accused Changsheng of fabricating production records as well as product inspection records related to a rabies vaccine given routinely to infants, sparking a furious online reaction in China. "The world is much more open now, citizens know a lot of things", Pong said.

The disclosure was the company's second major scandal in a week: just days earlier, a probe by state food and drug regulators announced that Changsheng had distributed more than 250,000 doses of a "substandard" DPT (diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus) vaccine, which was discovered past year.

According to Human Rights Watch, two lawyers - Tang Jingling and Yu Wensheng - who represented parents in vaccine scandals dating to 2006 and 2009 are both still in prison after being jailed for "subversion".

While there have been no apparent reports of people being harmed by the vaccine or having contracted rabies after receiving it, the regulator has already ordered Changsheng to halt production and recall all its vaccines.

But inevitably questions will be asked about the role of the public watchdog - the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - in all of this, as well as why an investigation was reportedly launched into the company in October, but vaccines not pulled until this month. A number have now been recalled, but there is no information at this stage as to how they could affect the health of those children who have already been injected.

Another company Wuhan Institute of Biological Products was also implicated in the DPT vaccine issue.

However, in addition to the rabies vaccines, the country's regulator found that the company had sold "substandard" ADPT (adsorbed diphtheria-pertussis-tetanus) vaccines.

Yet another massive vaccine scandal has rocked China this past week with tens of thousands of parents taking to social media to voice their renewed fears over their children's safety in a country that is becoming tired of these kinds of public safety crises.

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The Global Times newspaper reported that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has instructed authorities to dispatch teams to immediately investigate "the entire product chain" of all vaccines, vowing "severe punishment" and zero tolerance for anybody involved in the scandal.

Substandard vaccines from Changchun Changsheng have been administered to more than 210,000 children in eight cities in Shandong, including the provincial capital of Jinan, and in Zibo, according to the Shandong Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The vaccine case has crossed a moral line, and the nation deserves a clear explanation", Li was quoted as saying in a statement.

The fact that the main villain is a private company and not a government agency part explains why the scandal has been covered in the Chinese press, escaping the type of heavy internet censorship other issues often attract.

The company has now been ordered to pay a fine of 3.4m yuan ($510,000; £387,957). State media battled to take control of the narrative. "How am I supposed to raise a healthy child if I can not give them vaccines or let them drink milk?" writes another netizen.

China's top securities watchdog has begun an investigation into breaches of information disclosure rules by major vaccine-maker Changsheng Life Sciences Limited.

The FDA said the problem was linked to a change in the manufacturing process in China - and that the impurity may have gone undetected for "as long as four years".

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