Fallout from China vaccine scandal continues with arrests of officials
- The Chinese government plans to punish 357 officials tied to the ongoing vaccine scandal, the BBC reports. Authorities have already detained over 200 people in connection to the investigation.
- In March, police in China uncovered a $90 million black market for vaccines against meningitis, polio, hepatitis B, and a number of other illnesses.The illegal vaccines had been sold in dozens of provinces throughout China since 2010. In addition, the illegal vaccines were sent to 59 health institutions.
- The illegal vaccine sales have led to outrage from parents and officials through China, putting new pressure on the government as it attempts to reform its health system.
The World Health Organization has called for China to more strictly enforce its vaccine regulations in both public and private distribution networks. Standards which are in place for public distribution of vaccines apparently have been disregarded once the products reach the private market, leading to improper storage and sales of expired vaccines.
International health authorities are concerned the scandal could undermine public confidence in immunization and hope to see a robust response from the Chinese government.
The government has assured the population and other stakeholders that Chinese vaccine production is safe, which the WHO backed up. But the scandal risks weakening faith in the broader health system.