China police arrest over 130 in vaccine scandal

TOKYO, March 25 (KUNA) — Chinese police have arrested more than 130 suspects and filed 69 criminal cases in a vaccine scandal, the official Xinhua News Agency reported Friday, citing the Ministry of Public Security and other authorities.
The police recently discovered that improperly stored or expired vaccines, worth CNY 310 million (USD 48 million), had been allegedly sold across 20 provinces, according to the report.
Up to 20,000 doses have been seized by the authorities. Investigators are still tracing the flow of the vaccines, a senior ministry official was quoted as saying at a press conference in Beijing. Up to 29 pharmaceutical companies are suspected of involvement in selling the illegal vaccines, and 16 vaccination institutions are suspected of buying them.
All the vaccines involved were produced by licensed manufacturers, but the authorities fear their quality may have been compromised if they were not transported and stored in appropriate conditions. Improperly stored or expired vaccines pose a very small risk of causing a toxic reaction, the World Health Organization (WHO) country office in China said in a notice on Tuesday.
The notice said the WHO is aware of the reports on a vaccine incident, and awaits the results of an investigation by the Chinese health authority. The WHO said vaccines used in China are proved to be safe and effective, having eliminated polio and neonatal tetanus and reduced preventable diseases to very low levels in China. (end) mk.rk