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China cracks down on spurious, illegal, pricey vaccines

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - China is cracking down on vaccine-related crimes, making dozens of arrests over the production and distribution of fake coronavirus vaccines, price gouging and illegal inoculations, the official Xinhua news agency said on Monday.

Authorities had arrested 70 suspects by Wednesday, in 21 vaccine-related cases, it added, many of which surfaced during the initial phases of rollout.

One group of suspects made a profit of about 18 million yuan ($2.8 million) by packaging saline solution or mineral water in 58,000 doses of spurious vaccines, Xinhua said, identifying its leader, arrested last Christmas Day, only by the surname Kong.

In other cases, fake vaccines were sold at high prices, included in emergency inoculation schemes at hospitals, or smuggled abroad, it added.

China’s Supreme People’s Procuratorate urged regional agencies to cooperate with police in swift and unwavering action to curb such activities, the agency said.

China, which had given 40.52 million doses of vaccine to key groups of people by Tuesday, has largely managed to bring the pandemic under control with strict lockdown, testing and tracing measures.

($1=6.4542 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Interactive graphic tracking global spread of coronavirus: here)

Reporting by Samuel Shen and David Kirton; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

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