ucanews.com reporter, Hong KongUpdated: July 27, 2018 06:45 AM GMT
A child receives a vaccination shot at a hospital in Rongan in China's Guangxi region on July 23. President Xi Jinping has vowed stern action over the latest safety scare to hit the country's pharmaceutical industry. (Photo by AFP)
Public anger is mounting in China after revelations that major vaccine makers violated safety standards.
Thousands of faulty vaccines have been administered to children, eroding public trust in essential services and damaging China's standing overseas as it tries to become a major player in the pharmaceutical industry.
A Catholic doctor told ucanews.com that the case showed that China has no moral boundaries, causing people to do whatever they want for their own interests.
The China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) announced in November 2017 that Changsheng Biotechnology Co. and Wuhan Institute of Biological Products had produced inferior DPT (diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus) vaccines that had been administered to more than 400,000 children as young as three months old in Shandong, Chongqing and Hebei provinces.
On July 15, the CFDA issued a circular stating that Changsheng had produced a rabies vaccine with fraudulent production records. Production of the vaccine was halted.
Changsheng received a penalty letter about last year's faulty DPT vaccine from regulatory authorities on July 17, almost nine months after the incident was revealed.
Gao Junfang, chairwoman of Changsheng, was detained by police on July 24 with 14 other executives and staff suspected of criminal offenses.
Even though President Xi Jinping has ordered a thorough investigation, Paul, a Catholic doctor in Shaanxi province, told ucanews.com that the scandal reflected the weak supervision of authorities.
"Authorities only deal with the heads of several vaccine makers. It is totally irresponsible," he said, adding that Chinese media are concealing the truth about the scandal.
Since 2004, China has witnessed several cases of faulty or fake vaccines. In 2010, nearly 100 children in Shanxi province died or were disabled after vaccinations.
Maria, a Catholic mother of two, told ucanews.com that her 2-year-old child was injected with a vaccine produced by Changsheng. She is worried that her child will have sequela with a faulty vaccine. "It has recently been reported that if the vaccine is re-injected, it will not tell which manufacturer it is," she said.
She asked who would take responsibility if her child has problems with a vaccination. "Even if officials arrest the makers, they have not mentioned any compensation."
Teresa, a Catholic mother with a child, told ucanews.com that she felt helpless and angry. She agreed with a scholar who said that a good society should have three pillars: education, health care and law. "But now all three in China have collapsed," she said. "What can I do now? The domestic environment is getting worse and worse."
Paul quoted a priest in his parish who said: "China's leaders and bigwigs at all levels have no beliefs and no moral boundaries, so they will do whatever they want."