Chinese parents were in an uproar on Monday after reports that hundreds of thousands of children might have been injected with faulty vaccines. "You just let me down again and again", wrote one netizen. "Our trust has been overdrawn again and again, it's so irresponsible for everyone's life", said another.
Anxious parents trying to ascertain if their children had been administered faulty vaccines led to the topic becoming the second most watched at the weekend on the Twitter-like Weibo, with details widely shared on the WeChat messaging app.
Both vaccines were used in children, which has caused a particularly strong public backlash. "We are anxious about the quality of domestic vaccines", said Yin, who said she had spent HK$5,000 ($640) on the inoculations: PCV13 which protects against pneumococcal bacteria, Japanese encephalitis and the ACWY vaccination to protect against meningitis.
"But this incident.it also made me deeply concerned".
As parents rushed to find out if their children had been exposed to Changchun Changsheng's vaccines, regulators struggled to contain the damage.
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State-run Xinhua news agency reports that at least 113,000 doses of the company's rabies vaccine are affected. Most were sold in Shandong province, the Jilin Food and Drug Administration said in a statement on Friday. The company's licence for producing rabies vaccines has been revoked and all production and sale of their products has been suspended. The drugmaker's chairwoman and four high-ranking managers are now under criminal investigation.
Regulators said last week they had halted production of a rabies vaccine made by the company, which is based in north-eastern China, after finding fabricated records and other problems during an inspection.
Despite being overseas on Monday on a visit to Africa, President Xi was briefed on the vaccine crisis and said ensuring the safety of drugs was the responsibility of the government and the Communist Party.
"Those involved will be resolutely punished with zero tolerance".
'(We) must resolutely strike with heavy blows all law-breaking criminal behaviour, severely punish the criminals according to the law, and hold accountable those who were negligent in supervision, ' Mr Li said in a statement posted late Sunday on the government's website.
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The vaccine crisis will undermine attempts by authorities to rebuild the public's trust in Chinese food and medicines after a series of wide-scale controversies in the past decade.
Stocks of major Chinese vaccine producers plunged on Monday following the scandal.
The authorities condemned the Changsheng Biotech to pay 3.4 million yuan ($ 502,200).
"The Changsheng vaccine case has created a tsunami on the internet", the state-run Global Times newspaper said in an editorial late on Monday, adding it was unrealistic to try and completely control it, though it could not be left unchecked. As China Daily reported last November, the Wuhan firm sent more than 400,000 DPT doses to city and provincial governments that were then recalled. He added that the public needed clear information.
The scandals have cast an ugly blight on China's public vaccination system, which has previously been credited with cutting the number of polio, hepatitis B and tetanus cases. In 2008, 300,000 Chinese infants fell ill after consuming milk powder tainted with melamine.
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