Xi orders thorough investigation into vaccine case

Xi orders thorough investigation into vaccine case

Xi orders thorough investigation into vaccine case

"The world is much more open now, citizens know a lot of things", Pong said.

"On WeChat, the country's most popular messaging service, the Chinese word for vaccine appeared in 321 million articles and searches, 80 times the number of times it appeared on Friday". There have been no reports of the vaccines being harmful to patients, however.

Changchun Changsheng's parent company, Shenzhen-listed Changsheng Biotechnology, has made a public apology and voluntarily recalled all their rabies vaccines available on the market.

So far, there have been no reports of children falling ill after taking the vaccines.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a safety alert for some blood pressure and heart medications, if their active ingredient valsartan was produced by China's Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceuticals. The company's licence for producing rabies vaccines has been revoked and all production and sale of their products has been suspended.

While reactions to the Changsheng scandal were initially censored, it appears that Chinese censors have now been forced into being more lenient as the scandal has become the only piece of news that anyone in China seems to be talking about, with frequent updates and many threads on Weibo containing hundreds, if not thousands, of critical comments.

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But it exploded on social media over the weekend, fuelled by a viral essay alleging decades of malfeasance by the company including the bribery of officials to allow low-quality products onto the market.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has vowed stern action over the latest safety scare to hit the country's pharmaceutical industry, as a mounting scandal over a rabies vaccine sent drug stocks tumbling.

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.

China's No. 2 leader has ordered an investigation of its vaccine industry after violations by a rabies vaccine producer prompted a public outcry following scandals over shoddy drugs and food.

"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 criticise dereliction of duty in supervision", he said in a statement posted on a government website.

"The company will learn a lesson and take practical corrective measures and rectify thoroughly", the statement said.

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The company has now been ordered to pay a fine of 3.4m yuan ($510,000; £387,957).

The state-run Global Times newspaper questioned in an editorial Monday how suspect vaccines were still being produced following the harsh lessons of the past.

The state-run China Daily called on the government to be "transparent" in handing the scandal.

Indeed, the current allegations are being likened to the 2008 milk powder scandal, which saw six babies die and 54,000 hospitalised.

As public outrage over the scandal snowballed this week, political leadership in Beijing, eager to maintain confidence in China's vaccine industry, has responded with sharp condemnation of the firm and calls for swift punishment.

Li's remarks were aimed at assuaging Chinese parents who complain about worrying over fake food, milk and medicine in a society that seems to lack a "moral bottom line" - and also competent, uncorrupt regulators.

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