Chinese health authorities are investigating after seven infants died following inoculation with a hepatitis B vaccine, state media reported on Monday. State news agency Xinhua said that of the seven deaths from the hepatitis B vaccine in the latest case, four were in the southern province of Guangdong. The other cases were in the provinces of Hunan and Sichuan. The official China Daily said that all hospitals using the vaccine, made by Shenzhen-based BioKangtai, had been ordered to take it off their shelves while the Health Ministry investigates the company’s products and the deaths.
The company said in a statement last week, carried by state media, said that it rigorously followed safety rules but that they were testing the batches suspected of causing the deaths. Many Chinese people are suspicious that the government tries to cover up bad news about health problems, despite assurances of transparency. In 2003, the government initially tried to cover-up the outbreak of the SARS virus.