China’s Vaccine Scandal: Over 2.5 lakh Faulty DPT Vaccines Sold
Babies in a Chinese maternity care centre. (Photo: kidspot.au)

The Jilin Food and Drug Administration of China revealed a new vaccine safety scandal on Friday. After an investigation, Jilin-based Changchun Changsheng Bio-technology was found to have sold some 252,600 substandard DPT vaccines which are administered to children as young as three-months old.

These faulty vaccines were acquired by the provincial health agency to administer to children under a subsidised government-mandated vaccine programme. It is still unclear how many children had been given these faulty vaccines. This new revelation comes just five days after this same drug company was also found to have violated standards in making rabies vaccine for humans. The China Food and Drug Administration said in a statement that its investigation had found that Changsheng fabricated production records and product inspection records, and arbitrarily changed process parameters and equipment, in "serious violations" of the law.

The DPT vaccine is administered to children in four doses against three infectious diseases – diphtheria, whooping cough and tetanus. The faulty vaccines were found to be ineffective, but it is not known whether they could cause harm. There have been no reports of any children falling ill after being given the vaccines.

This new vaccine scandal in China comes after the state drug watchdog revealed in November 2017 that another big vaccine maker, the Wuhan Institute of Biological Products, had sold 400,520 inferior DPT vaccines to the provincial governments of Chongqing and Hebei.

The resulting scandal has impacted the shares in Chinese vaccine makers and biotech firms fell across the board on Monday. The wider CSI 300 healthcare index was down about 5 per cent.

Premier Li Keqiang called for an immediate investigation and urged severe punishment for the companies and people implicated. He added the public needed clear information. "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.