Chinese parents were in an uproar on Monday after reports that hundreds of thousands of children might have been injected with faulty vaccines.
The outcry came after reports emerged on Friday that a major drug producer in China, Changchun Changsheng Biotechnology, had violated standards in making at least 250,000 doses of vaccine for diptheria, tetanus and whooping cough. The report said that the substandard vaccines were sold to the Disease Prevention and Control Centre of Shandong province, which has a population of 100 million, and were to be given to children under a compulsory state-run health programme.
Following the outcry, Premier Li Keqiang in a statement on Sunday said the vaccine case has crossed a moral line, and the nation deserves a clear explanation. “The State Council should immediately send a group to investigate to uncover the truth as soon as possible, and any wrongdoing will be severely punished regardless of who is involved,” Li said. “We will resolutely crack down on illegal and criminal acts that endanger peoples’ lives and resolutely punish lawbreakers,” he added.
On July 15, the government had found that the same company had fabricated production data and inspection records of its freeze-dried human rabies vaccine. The company’s licence was revoked and the vaccine recalled.
The outrage was not confined to social media platforms. State-run newspapers have also been critical about how the pharmaceutical industry is being regulated.
“People do not understand why the country had not prevented a substandard vaccine from being produced in the first place,” said the Global Times in an editorial published on Monday.
So far, there have been no reports of children falling ill after taking the vaccines.