Six Babies Die In China From Hepatitis B Injections

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By Esther Tanquintic-Misa | December 24, 2013 9:36 AM EST

China has recorded that six babies died after receiving hepatitis B vaccines. The vaccination formed part of the government's drive to immunize its citizens against the liver disease.

The deaths occurred in the southern province of Guangdong, south-central province of Hunan and the south-west province of Sichuan.

The hepatitis B vaccine injections were made by Shenzhen-based Biokangtai, Xinhua News reported. On Friday, the country's top health, food and drug authorities issued a circular ordering the suspension of the use of Biokangtai vaccines. Biokangtai is the exclusive contributor of hepatitis B vaccine for Shenzhen's free vaccination program.

A Buddhist nun gets an injection in the Healthy Farm charity clinic at a monastery outside Yangon November 2, 2013. Myanmar's reformist government is seeking foreign investment to revive one of Asia's sickest healthcare systems. Several leading regional healthcare companies are already operating in Myanmar and others plan to enter soon, seeing huge potential in the country's underserved population of about 60 million people. Attracting foreign investment is part of an overhaul of the healthcare system by the quasi-civilian government that took over from the army in 2011. The administration of President Thein Sein has cut military spending and raised healthcare funding to 3 percent of government spending this fiscal year to March 31, from 1 percent the previous year. As with many sectors, however, private firms say they are being held back by uncertainty over rules for foreign investors. Picture taken November 2, 2013. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

"Why was this allowed onto the market? The government needs to come clean about this," one Weibo user wrote.

Many netizens called on the national government to be transparent on this latest health issue.

Chinese health officials have started investigating the matter.

"In general, hepatitis B vaccine is known to be safe and effective," Helen Yu, Beijing-based communications officer for the World Health Organization in China, told Bloomberg.

"We are confident in the ability of CFDA to conduct a thorough investigation."

The sixth baby from Shenzhen who died from hepatitis B vaccine reportedly died 70 minutes after receiving the vaccine.

"The baby was suddenly in a critical condition. We immediately carried out emergency treatment and tried our best, but the baby did not survive." He Yiping, deputy director of Nanwan People's Hospital in Shenzhen, said.

Xinhua News cited the unidentified father telling doctors his child was in very good condition shortly after his birth on Tuesday morning in a hospital, before the vaccine was given.

Timeline Of Baby Deaths

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