Media/Policy Watch

Media/Policy Watch

This watch section is intended to alert readers to substantive news, analysis and opinion from the general media and selected think tanks and similar organizations on vaccines, immunization, global public health and related themes. Media Watch is not intended to be exhaustive, but indicative of themes and issues CVEP is actively tracking. This section will grow from an initial base of newspapers, magazines and blog sources, and is segregated from Journal Watch above which scans the peer-reviewed journal ecology.

We acknowledge the Western/Northern bias in this initial selection of titles and invite suggestions for expanded coverage. We are conservative in our outlook in adding news sources which largely report on primary content we are already covering above. Many electronic media sources have tiered, fee-based subscription models for access. We will provide full-text where content is published without restriction, but most publications require registration and some subscription level.
The Atlantic
Accessed 28 Jul 2018
The Deleted WeChat Post That Fueled China’s Vaccine Scandal
It alleged a complex web of corruption going back decades.
Sarah ZhangKaren Yuan
Jul 25, 2018
A vaccine scandal in China began building slowly and then suddenly, this weekend, it was everywhere at once.
The story began back in November, when a large vaccine manufacturer called Changsheng Biotechnology Co. was forced to recall 252,600 ineffective doses of vaccines for DPT (diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus). Then earlier this July, a government investigation caught Changsheng falsifying data about its rabies vaccine, and a local food and drug administration fined the company 3.44 million yuan, or approximately $500,000, over the faulty DPT vaccines.
Over the weekend, an anonymous post recounting all this and more went viral on the Chinese social network WeChat. In addition to the recent developments, it alleged a complex web of corruption that went back decades, involving other vaccines for hepatitis B and chicken pox. The post was deleted the next day.

But by then, a full-blown national scandal had erupted. The Chinese government this week scrambled to put out statements assuring a prompt investigation. President Xi Jinping described the situation as “vile and shocking.” Police on Monday announced the swift arrest of four of the company’s executives, including its chairwoman.

Changsheng’s vaccines have not yet been tied to any deaths or illnesses, but the story caught on because it so perfectly echoed many scandals that have rocked China in recent years. In 2016, for example, a hospital pharmacist sold two million doses of vaccines improperly stored in an “overheated, dilapidated storeroom.” That came after scandals over tainted milk, infant formula, pork, cooking oil, and water. The scandals, one after another, have undermined trust in the government’s ability to keep the public safe…

Accessed 28 Jul 2018
[No new, unique, relevant content]

The Economist
Accessed 28 Jul 2018
A vaccine scandal shakes trust in China’s government
More than 200,000 babies may have been given substandard jabs
Jul 26th 2018 | BEIJING
Financial Times
Accessed 28 Jul 2018
[No new, unique, relevant content]
Accessed 28 Jul 2018
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Foreign Affairs
Accessed 28 Jul 2018
[No new, unique, relevant content]


Foreign Policy
Accessed 28 Jul 2018
Welcome to the Next Deadly AIDS Pandemic
Laurie Garrett | 26 July 2018
The world thought it had fought the HIV virus to a stalemate — but its strategy was flawed in ways that are only now becoming clear.

The Guardian
Accessed 28 Jul 2018
‘They are devils’: China’s parents demand answers over vaccine scandal
Protest groups want to know how hundreds of thousands of faulty vaccines came to be used
Lily Kuo in Beijing
Wed 25 Jul 2018

New Yorker
Accessed 28 Jul 2018
[No new, unique, relevant content]

New York Times
Accessed 28 Jul 2018
Asia Pacific
China Says Vaccine Maker Changsheng Broke Manufacturing Rules, Faked Records – Xinhua
July 27, 2018
BEIJING — China’s cabinet investigation group has found that vaccine maker Changsheng Bio-technology broke the law in manufacturing rabies vaccines, the state news agency Xinhua reported on Friday.
The investigation group said the company had systematically falsified production and testing records to avoid regulatory scrutiny, according to Xinhua.
“The company used expired materials to produce some rabies vaccine and falsified the production date,” the investigation group found.
“To cover up violations, the company systematically fabricated production and testing records.”
China has launched sweeping spot checks on vaccine makers around the country after Changsheng was found to have falsified data and sold ineffective vaccines for children…


Wall Street Journal,us&_homepage=/home/us
Accessed 28 Jul 2018
Review & Outlook
China’s Vaccine Scandal
Children get phony protection but officials aren’t held accountable.
By The Editorial Board
July 27, 2018
Xi Jinping boasts that he is building the “Chinese Dream” of a strong and prosperous nation, but the vision of China’s supreme leader is losing some of its luster. Over the past couple of weeks parents in China have learned that a compulsory public-health program injected an unknown number of children with substandard vaccines. They are understandably furious.

Mr. Xi called the case “hideous and appalling,” and he has promised a thorough investigation. But websites and state-run media are only allowed to republish official pronouncements on the case, suggesting the authorities are still covering up the extent of the crime.

Last November officials in Jilin province found that the Changsheng Biotechnology Co. falsified production data for a diphtheria, pertussis and tetanus (DPT) vaccine. After national regulators found similar problems with Changsheng’s rabies vaccine this month, the provincial government revealed that problems with the DPT vaccine affected more than 250,000 doses. Another company in Wuhan was responsible for 400,000 faulty DPT injections.

On July 21 an anonymous report on the WeChat messaging platform, similar to WhatsApp, accused corrupt regulators of hiding the problems of vaccines made by Changsheng. That was plausible because officials have been disciplined for taking bribes from the company in the past. Online expressions of anger at the scandal exploded.

Chinese are particularly angry because similar cases have happened in recent years, followed by similar promises to crack down. In 2010 and 2013 hundreds of children were hospitalized and several died from faulty vaccines. Chinese companies have used official connections to avoid accountability for producing a range of defective products that kill and maim. In 2008 Chinese dairy companies knowingly sold infant formula that contained melamine, a chemical that damaged the kidneys of hundreds of thousands of children. At least six died. A decade later, many parents will only feed their children imported formula.

The official response follows a familiar pattern. Journalists and lawyers who try to follow up or investigate similar cases are jailed. The officials responsible are transferred to new posts, having learned that covering up scandals is more important than preventing them. Sun Xianze, one of the food-safety regulators disciplined in the 2008 dairy scandal, was in charge of drug safety until his retirement in March.

The scandal will hurt Mr. Xi’s plan to build the pharmaceutical industry as part of his “Made in China 2025” industrial policy. But the damage to the public’s faith in his administration is harder to quantify. Because the Communist Party is effectively above the law and China lacks a free media capable of being a watchdog, his promise to get to the bottom of the problem rings hollow.

Officials insist that Mr. Xi’s anticorruption campaign is a serious attempt to improve Communist Party governance and not merely a tool to remove political opponents. Ordinary Chinese can be forgiven for reaching a different conclusion as the health of children is sacrificed to protect the Party’s power. And Americans enamored of China’s supposed authoritarian efficiency might contemplate the cost of its lack of accountability.


Washington Post
Accessed 28 Jul 2018
Vaccine scandal gripping China could cause serious problems for the government
Rebecca Tan| 26 July 2018