Wednesday, Aug 23, 2017, 6:36 AM CST – China

News Brief


Vaccine Scandal

Shandong Province police recently shut down a large-scale vaccine peddling operation responsible for the illegal sale of vaccines valued at more than US$41.3 million.

Police said that over the past five years, the two main suspects, a mother and daughter surnamed Pang, have allegedly illegally accumulated 25 types of Class II vaccines and delivered them to 24 municipalities and provinces without following proper storage procedures. Given that Class II vaccines are optional and paid for out of pocket, unlike compulsory Class I vaccines, which are provided free of charge by the government, it is hard for the officials to accurately calculate the number of victims.

Experts said that these improper storage methods make vaccines ineffective or at least less effective, but the risk of them being harmful is very low. Still, many people in affected regions have expressed anxiety over not knowing whether or not their vaccinations were efficacious.

Police have so far detained over 100 people allegedly involved in some aspect of the vaccine ring. Given the massive scale of the operation and the relevant government departments’ failure to detect it, both the media and the public have posited that corrupt officials may also have been involved.

On March 22, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang ordered a detailed investigation into the vaccine scandal under the supervision of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate and pledged to hold culpable officials accountable. Chinese media outlets have taken advantage of the uproar to once again urge the government to improve its supervision of vaccine-related departments as well as those departments’ compensation schemes, a demand which had been ignored for years. 


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