Vaccine Safety Now Being Questioned In China

The safety of vaccines is being questioned in China after one of country’s largest vaccine manufacturers was found to have falsified records regarding the production and inspection of rabies vaccines for humans. According to the China Food and Drug Administration, Changchun Changsheng Bio-technology Ltd. committed “serious violations” of the law when it violated standards in making some 113,000 rabies vaccines.

Changsheng, which produces about 23 percent of China’s rabies vaccines, was ordered to halt all rabies vaccine production and recall all its vaccines. The company was also fined 3.4 million yuan (US$502,200). The company expressed its “deepest apology” in a statement and said there have been no reports of injuries or harmful side-effects. Investigators are looking into whether to file criminal charges.

The scandal, just the latest over suspect medication to hit the country, have parents alarmed about whether their children had been administered the faulty vaccines. The vaccines were reportedly distributed to babies as young as three months old.

The topic quickly became popular on social media, becoming the second most watched topic on Weibo. A hashtag related to the case had been read more than 600 million times by mid-afternoon. The details were also widely shared on the WeChat messaging app.

Chinese Premiere Li Keqiang issued a statement about the matter on the government’s website. The statement called for an immediate investigation and said, “We will resolutely crack down on illegal and criminal acts that endanger the safety of peoples’ lives, resolutely punish lawbreakers according to the law, and resolutely and severely criticize dereliction of duty in supervision.”

It doesn’t help that this was the company’s second major scandal in a week. The company had recently been found to have distributed more than 250,000 doses of a “substandard” DPT (diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus) vaccine”, according to provincial authorities. Changsheng told the stock exchange that it was being fined by authorities in its base in northeastern Jilin province over the substandard production.

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