The Chinese government has targeted hundreds of local officials for improper handling of vaccines. The move comes as Beijing seeks to quell rising anger among its populace in response to the scandal.
Beijing said on Thursday that 357 local officials would be either fired or demoted for poor performace, as the government grapples with a public health scandal that has sparked outrage among citizens nationwide.
In total, 192 criminal cases have been filed and 202 people have been detained after China's Food and Drug Administration revealed last month that companies were selling expired or improperly stored vaccines.
In an attempt to reassure the public, Beijing insisted the tainted vaccines weren't ones required for children and couldn't cause disease. Nonetheless, the revelations caused a stir among the populace, exposing the government's lack of oversight when it came to public health matters.
Public health fears
The government also said it would tighten rules in regards to the storage and distribution of vaccines by forbidding wholesale drug companies from selling them and requiring health departments to verify their manufacturing source.
The vaccines in question were reportedly sold in 20 provinces starting in 2011.
This isn't the first time Beijing has been caught up in a public health scandal: 300,000 infants consumed tainted milk formula in 2008 that led to several deaths and hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations.
blc/kl (AP, dpa, AFP)