Li vows no le­niency in scandal over bad vac­cines

Dozens de­tained by police; top pros­e­cu­tors will over­see the case

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By SHAN JUAN shan­juan@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Premier Li Ke­qiang said there will be no le­niency for any­one in­volved in a vac­cine scandal that has shocked the na­tion and ig­nited wide pub­lic con­cern about vac­cine safety.

Li pledged on Tues­day to pun­ish of­fi­cials who are proven to have been derelict in their duty in the distri­bu­tion of the pos­si­bly in­ef­fec­tive vac­cines, ac­cord­ing to the State Coun­cil web­site.

In­ves­ti­ga­tions into the mat­ter are con­tin­u­ing.

Police in Shan­dong prov­ince said im­prop­erly stored or ex­pired vac­cines, worth more than 570 mil­lion yuan ($88 mil­lion), were ap­par­ently sold in more than 20 pro­vin­cial-level ar­eas since 2011. and drug ad­min­is­tra­tions to un­cover the man­u­fac­tur­ing sources, cir­cu­la­tion chan­nels and buy­ers of the in­fe­rior prod­ucts.

Wu said the ad­min­is­tra­tion would work closely with law en­force­ment. He added that the distri­bu­tion and use of vac­cines are gen­er­ally well­man­age­dun­derex­ist­ing rules, es­pe­cially the 14 vac­cines in­cluded in the na­tion’s rou­tine im­mu­niza­tion pro­gram.

Vac­cines in­volved in the re­cent scandal are con­sid­ered Cat­e­gory 2 vac­cines, in­clud­ing those against menin­gi­tis and ra­bies, among other pathogens. Cat­e­gory 2 vac­cines are ad­min­is­tered upon re­quest, and peo­ple pay for them.

In­dus­try in­sid­ers said that, un­like the strictly man­aged vac­cines of Cat­e­gory 1, loop­holes and room for profit ex­ist in Cat­e­gory 2.

A con­fused pub­lic may not be able to tell the dif­fer­ence. Some par­ents have re­port­edly held back their ba­bies from the rou­tine im­mu­niza­tion pro­gram for fear of get­ting a bad dose.

Pub­lic health ex­perts, in­clud­ing those from the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion, urged the Chi­nese pub­lic to stick to rou­tine im­mu­niza­tion pro­grams, which are vi­tally im­por­tant to both in­di­vid­ual and pub­lic health.

Im­prop­erly stored or ex­pired vac­cines can lose po­tency and be­come less ef­fec­tive, but they pose a very small risk of caus­ing a toxic re­ac­tion, a state­ment is­sued by the WHO China of­fice said on Tues­day. The or­ga­ni­za­tion also ex­pressed its will­ing­ness to pro­vide sup­port.

A vac­cine ren­dered in­ef­fec­tive through age or im­proper stor­age could fail to pro­tect the re­cip­i­ent against in­fec­tious dis­eases, which cre­ates a pub­lic health chal­lenge, ac­cord­ing to Gao Fu, deputy di­rec­tor of the Chi­nese Cen­ter for Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion.

Xiong Huang, deputy head of the in­for­ma­tion of­fice of the Na­tion­alHealth and Fam­ily Plan­ning Com­mis­sion, said there has been no in­crease in re­ports of side ef­fects af­ter vac­ci­na­tions so far.

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