China is currently facing a tragic vaccine scandal, where it was recently discovered that Chinese vaccine manufacturers provided hundreds of thousands of faulty and falsely documented vaccines to Chinese school children. The scandal has incited widespread fury both in China and abroad, prompting the country’s President, Xi Jinping, to describe the incidents as “vile and shocking.”
China’s Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) has launched an investigation into vaccine manufacturer Changchun Changsheng Biotechnology, revoking its license for human rabies vaccines and beginning a recall of all unused vaccines produced by the company.
Many of the defective vaccines were already on the market and being given to Chinese children, as part of the mandatory national vaccination program. A number have now been recalled, but there is no information at this stage as to how they could affect the health of those children who have already been injected.
Under China’s ‘Made in China 2025’ plan, pharmaceuticals are a target industry: President Xi has identified China’s reliance on imported drugs as an issue that can be resolved by overhauling the pharmaceutical industry and ultimately creating globally competitive firms.
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that China has faced scandals involving counterfeit vaccines. In 2015, Shandong Province authorities acknowledged the 2015 arrest of a mother and daughter accused of illegally selling $88m worth of vaccines across 20 provinces since 2011 including Beijing, Shenzhen, Guangzhou, and other big cities and provinces.
The details of the scandal illustrate the complexities of vaccine fraud. Main suspect Pang Hongwei, a former pharmacist at a hospital in Shandong, and her 21-year-old daughter were found illegally selling 12 different kinds of vaccines, two kinds of immune globulin and one kind of therapeutic product across the countr...