China investigating blood batch possibly tainted with HIV

Henrietta Strickland
February 8, 2019

Chinese authorities said tests of a batch of human immunoglobulin for intravenous injection, reportedly contaminated with the HIV antibody, showed negative presence of the virus.

Established in 2000, Shanghai Xinxing is a biotech company specialising in the manufacture and sale of medical blood products.

China has struggled in the past with the spread of HIV due mainly to infected blood transfusions, according to the BBC, but recent reports show that the number of people in the country contracting the virus in this way has dropped almost to zero.

The presence of the HIV virus in the product was first detected by the Jiangxi Provincial Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, in southeast China, according to state media.

The products have been distributed nationwide, .so medical institutions across China have been asked to stop using them during the probe.

A staff member of the health commission in north-west China's Shaanxi province said 10 hospitals had reported back saying they had yet to find any patients who had contracted HIV.

Tests on the suspect batch proved negative for HIV, officials said on Wednesday, following a comment by China's National Health Commission that there was a "very low" risk of HIV infection from it.

Immunoglobulins are antibodies produced by white blood cells that are used to treat immune deficiencies caused by illnesses such as leukaemia, hepatitis and rabies.

The batch of 50ml bottles are due to expire in June 2021, a source from the state food and drug regulator told the China Business Journal.

The NHC statement advised hospitals to report remaining stocks of the treatment and closely monitor the condition of patients who had already been administered with the defective batch.

The IVIg in question was produced by Shanghai Xinxing, which is owned by China's pharmaceutical giant Meheco Group.

Beijing has repeatedly vowed tighter oversight and crackdowns on firms and officials after food and drug safety scandals sparked public outrage, such as one last month over expired polio vaccines and another a year ago over a rabies vaccine.

But the incident will likely further erode consumer trust in Chinese medical products, and comes after a major scandal in 2018 involving faulty vaccines.

Also see in the New York Times an op-ed by global health expert Huáng Yánzhōng 黄延中: If a government can't deliver safe vaccines for children, is it fit to rule?

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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