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AstraZenecas COVID-19 vaccine partner in China plagued by scandal – New York Post

The corporate AstraZeneca has tapped to supply its coronavirus vaccine in China has an extended historical past of scandals involving bribery, authorized battles and the deaths of greater than a dozen infants, a brand new report says.

Shenzhen Kangtai Organic Merchandise — one in every of China’s largest vaccine makers — just lately inked a deal to grow to be the unique producer of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 shot there, according to The New York Times.

Whereas the partnership provides Kangtai an vital function in rolling out a coronavirus vaccine in the world’s second-largest economic system, it’s simply the most recent chapter in the checkered historical past of the corporate led by billionaire chairman Du Weimin, the paper reported Monday.

Kangtai reportedly made headlines in 2013 when 17 infants died after taking its vaccine for hepatitis B. Regulators cleared the corporate of wrongdoing and the vaccine continues to be used safely, however the incident sparked an outrage that led Chinese language media and the general public to model Du a “child-killer,” in keeping with the Instances.

Three years earlier, dozens of elementary faculty college students in China’s Guangdong Province got here down with vomiting, complications and limb weak spot after receiving the identical shot, the report says. Well being officers reportedly downplayed issues that the vaccine was linked to the sicknesses however didn’t clarify how they’d reached that conclusion earlier than check outcomes had come out.

One world well being skilled reportedly stated the spate of toddler deaths “raises respectable issues” about Kangtai at an important time for the vaccine business.

“Think about if the same scandal is reported once more in China,” Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for world well being on the Council on Overseas Relations, advised the Instances. “It’s not simply going to undermine the arrogance of the corporate manufacturing the vaccine, it’s additionally going to harm the status of AstraZeneca itself and their vaccine, too.”

AstraZeneca didn’t instantly reply to a request for remark Monday. However the British drugmaker stood by its take care of Kangtai in an announcement to the Instances, saying it “conducts acceptable and thorough due diligence previous to getting into an settlement with any entity.”

“Security, efficacy and high quality of the vaccine is of utmost significance, and AstraZeneca has partnered with succesful, established organizations to assist guarantee broad and equitable world entry, at no revenue through the pandemic,” AstraZeneca advised the paper.

Kangtai’s alleged sketchy conduct will not be uncommon in a Chinese language vaccine business that suffers from corruption and a insecurity in its merchandise among the many Chinese language public, in keeping with the Instances, which recognized 59 corruption lawsuits involving vaccine firms from 2018 to 2020.

Du — who has been dubbed the “King of Vaccines” in China and is among the nation’s richest males — acknowledged in court docket paperwork that he handed drug regulator Yin Hongzhang a paper bag stuffed with $44,000 in money in an effort to get Kangtai’s vaccines accredited, the paper reported.

The corporate was cleared a number of months later to begin medical trials for 2 vaccines that have been finally accredited and generated tens of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} in income, the report says.

Yin, the regulator, was despatched to jail in 2016 for taking bribes from Du and different vaccine producers — however Du himself was not charged, in keeping with the Instances.

The identical 12 months, a Chinese language court docket reportedly convicted the journalist Du Taoxin of wounding Du Weimin’s status by publishing a vital article about Kangtai.

The journalist had reported that regulators had delayed their 2010 announcement that roughly 180,000 doses of a rabies vaccine made by firm Du Weimin owned have been ineffective so he would have time to promote a majority stake in the agency and deflect blame for the issues, in keeping with the Instances.

Du Weimin efficiently sued Du Taoxin and his newspaper, Democracy and the Rule of Regulation, which needed to delete the story, the Instances reported.

Kangtai didn’t instantly reply to an e mail in search of remark Monday.

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