Thirty-seven people in China have been arrested for being involved in an unusual illegal ring. They were not part of a prostitution ring, an illegal gun ring, nor a drug-ring, no: the eastern Chinese people were arrested for their role in an illegal vaccine operation.
The arrests were made following the arrest last month in Shandong of a mother and daughter accused of illegally buying and selling vaccines.
State-run news agency Xinhua news announced that the vaccines, which were worth a whopping 88 million dollars, were bought from a variety of sources, both unlicensed and licensed. The news agency went on to report that the vaccines were then sold to illegal agents as well as legal local disease control and prevention centers, at largely inflated prices.
The ring is said to have been operating since 2011, and the Chinese authorities had learned about it last April. However, they only went public with information of the vaccine ring this past Friday when they urged a call demanding that suppliers come forward to help the police trace potential victims.
Many Chinese people are angered by the vaccine scandal, however, even more rage has been directed at the authorities for delaying any crackdown on the ring and for not alerting the public sooner.
Local police now must identify who bought the medicine by a deadline of this Friday.
According to Xinhua, three pharmaceutical companies are under investigation for being actors in this outrageous scandal. One of these companies is Shandong Zhaoxin Bio-tech Co, which has been ordered to suspend all operations.
The vaccines themselves involved in the ring were not refrigerated or transported properly, to which the Chinese office of the World Health Organization (WHO) says may cause them to become less effective.
The WHO added, though, that “it is important to note, however, that improperly stored or expired vaccine seldom if ever causes a toxic reaction. Therefore there is likely to be minimal safety risk in this particular situation.”