Medical experts arrive in Shanxi to investigate vaccine problems

08:48, March 30, 2010      

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A team of eight medical experts sent by the Chinese Medical Association has arrived in Shanxi province to help with the ongoing investigation of the latest vaccine scandal.

Specialists in neurology, allergic reaction, vaccine adverse reaction, immunization planning, as well as infectious and blood diseases were sent to Shanxi at the request of the provincial medical association to ensure the probe is scientific, transparent and accurate, Xinhua News Agency reported on Monday.

The Beijing-based China Economic Times reported on March 17 that improperly stored vaccines administered by the provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had killed four children and sickened more than 70 others who had been vaccinated between 2006 and 2008.

"What's the point of the investigation given that it has been three years since the first adverse reactions allegedly caused by improper storage were first reported by families of the victims?" asked Cao Lingsheng, a division director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention's immunization center.

"Vaccine samples taken then cannot provide valid test results, if there are any left for testing," he told China Daily.

He added that it will be hard, if not impossible, to collect sound proof to link or unlink the victims' deaths and illnesses to the vaccines.

Li Tiantian, a doctor at the Peking Union Medical College, agreed.

"It's not right to simply relate the deaths and injuries of nearly 100 children to vaccines they had received years ago, or to the improper storage of the vaccines," he noted.

Doctors find it hard to diagnose minor patients showing symptoms like twitching and fever, according to Li.

Children are usually sent to a hospital several days after showing the symptoms, making it hard for doctors to track the cause, let alone several years later, he said.

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