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China vows crackdown on illegal vaccines

Updated: Apr 13,2016 10:07 PM

The State Council executive meeting on April 13 presided over by Premier Li Keqiang listened to the investigation report on illegal sales of the problematic vaccines in Jinan, Shandong province.

During the meeting, the State Council passed the amendment of the Regulations on Management regarding the Circulation of Vaccine and Vaccine’s Prevention and Inoculation and also decided to lower the enterprises’ social security and housing provident fund payments in a step-by-step fashion.

The quality of vaccines concerns people’s life and health, especially those of the children, which is a redline that cannot be crossed, said a statement issued after the meeting.

China’s vaccine system is generally secure and reliable, said the statement. “Once there is a loophole, we must close it.”

Since the emergence of the Shandong illegal vaccine sales cases, the State Council authorized the formation of a cross-departmental investigation team and also formed a supervision team to launch a nationwide probe and make effective assessments on confiscated vaccines.

Currently, the first phase of investigation is nearly finished, finding that the cases are criminal acts with wide and bad effects. It also revealed the lack of supervision over the quality of vaccines and improper management of the use of vaccines, some officials’ dereliction of duty and imperfect risk response mechanism.

The meeting required to finish the risk assessment for those who have taken those vaccines and publish the assessment results to the public in a timely manner, and make proper follow-up arrangements.

Altogether, there are 192 criminal cases, with 202 detained, and 357 officials dismissed or demoted. Some officials from the Food and Drug Administration, National Health and Family Planning Commission and government branches of 17 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities will be held accountable.

The meeting stressed to strengthen the supervision system, as it specified in the amendment, to strictly manage the circulation of vaccines by adding noncompulsory vaccine of the class-2 to the provincial platform for public resources transaction with centralized procurement, as with the compulsory class-1 vaccine. Drug wholesale enterprises are no longer allowed to sell vaccines, nor the conducts of borrowing qualifications and bills to undertake illegal operation.

The meeting urged to establish a system to trace the whole process from the production to circulation of vaccines, enhance the requirement for cold chain storage and transportation, increase disease control agencies, and urge every inoculation unit fulfilling its duty to ask for temperature monitoring records in receiving vaccines.

Moreover, the meeting called for strengthened punishment by increasing the amount of fines imposed on illegal activities concerning the illegal purchase, sale, or storage of vaccines. Violators are banned to continue their operation in the field and local governments and regulatory departments’ relevant leaders in charge are asked to resign over dereliction of duty. Moreover, the amendment improved the compensation system for the abnormal effects brought about by taking vaccines.

In order to alleviate the burden of enterprises, stimulate the vitality of enterprises, and increase employment and workers’ cash income, the meeting decided to further reduce social insurance rates in the coming two years from May 1, 2016.

First, for provinces in which enterprises pay over 20 percent of their workers’ endowment insurance, the proportion of payment will be reduced to 20 percent. For provinces in which enterprises pay over 20 percent of its workers’ endowment insurance and the fund accumulated balance by the end of 2015 can pay over nine months, the proportion of payment will be temporarily reduced to 19 percent.

Second, the total rate of unemployment insurance will be reduced from the current 2 percent to 1 percent - 1.5 percent, in which individual rates will be no more than 0.5 percent.

The specific scheme concerning the above two measures will be determined by every province (autonomous region and municipality).

Third, the deposit ratio for housing provident fund will be regulated. Those more than 12 percent shall be adjusted, and every province (autonomous region and municipality) can combine their local conditions to gradually reduce the deposit ratio for housing provident fund. Enterprises that suffer difficulties in production and management can also apply for a deferred payment for housing provident fund, and make up the payment or raise deposit ratios when their businesses see improvement.