Outrage in China Over Latest Vaccine Safety Scandal

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks at the China-EU Business Roundtable held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing China Monday

Last week vaccine maker Changsheng Biotechnology Co was found to have falsified production data for its rabies vaccine.

In a sign of the high-level unease, President Xi Jinping - on a trip to Africa - weighed in Monday, calling the vaccine company's actions "vile in nature and shocking", according to state media.

The CFDA has asked the provincial food and drug administration of Jilin, where the company is based, to revoke Changchun Changsheng's Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certificate, an global recognized license for drug production.

FILE PHOTO: A nurse prepares a vaccine to be given to a child in a hospital in Beijing, China, April 13, 2016.

China has been plagued by vaccine scandals in recent years.

Relevant departments and local authorities should pay close attention and immediately probe the case to find the truth, Xi said, adding that the investigation should be thorough, the punishment severe, the accountability held seriously, and the case's progress should be publicized on time to address public concern.

Regulators said last week that they had halted production of a rabies vaccine at a large pharmaceutical company in the northeast after finding fabricated records and other problems during an inspection.

China is hit regularly by quality-control scandals, fuelling fears over the safety of food and medicines, and anger at regulatory lapses.

In the event of a social crisis, the Chinese regime commonly orders an information lockdown, including online censorship and fabrication of fake news stories-such as during the 2008 infant formula scandal, when a brand of milk and infant formula was found to have been tainted with the chemical melamine.

The problems have rekindled already deep fears over domestically made medicines and driven anxious parents online to swap information on obtaining imported vaccines. The firm was also found to have sold 252,600 substandard DPT vaccines, a mandatory vaccine in China to inoculate children against diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus.

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"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", Li said in a statement posted on the government's website.

In a statement, the Jilin Provincial Food and Drug Administration said a total of 253,338 doses of Changsheng's DPT vaccine were faulty.

Changsheng, which suspended trading in its shares for part of Monday, saw their value drop by 10% on the day.

It also flagged on Monday that the firm may face the risk of having to delist due to an investigation by China's securities regulator into suspected violations of information disclosure.

Authorities in Hebei announced separately on Monday that almost 150,000 people in the northern province received a sub-standard diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis vaccine made by another firm, Wuhan Institute of Biological Products.

The shares have slumped 47% since mid-July, when news of the scandal first broke.

Some parents in the province of Guandong said they had lost confidence in vaccines made in China and that in the future they would like to have their children vaccinated in Hong Kong and Macao.

Another state media publication, China Daily, said in an editorial the same day transparency was needed if the public was going to be satisfied.

The government needs to let the public know it "will punish any wrongdoers without mercy", the official newspaper wrote.

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