China is doing all it can to prevent the sale and distribution of illegal Covid-19 vaccines, its embassy in Japan said on Friday, following a newspaper report that 18 Japanese had been injected with a Chinese product that had been smuggled into the country.
“The Chinese government attaches great importance to the safety of vaccine production and distribution … [and] strictly implements the management of the entire vaccine process,” it said in a statement.
“[China] is willing to work with other countries to combat illegal and criminal activities such as vaccine production and sales, illegal outflows, and effectively guarantee the safety of vaccine research and development, production, circulation and use,” it said.
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The statement came after Japanese newspaper Mainichi Shimbun reported that since November, 18 Japanese had been given an unapproved coronavirus vaccine made by Chinese state-owned pharmaceutical group Sinopharm and smuggled into the country by a Chinese citizen.
The embassy expressed its “strong dissatisfaction” at the “unverified” claims made by Japanese news media, without naming a specific outlet.
“We hope that the relevant media will take the responsibility to ensure the truthfulness and objectiveness of China-related reports, and avoid misleading the Japanese people,” it said.
Beijing approved the use of Sinopharm’s vaccine on Wednesday, and at least 10 countries, including Pakistan, Hungary and Ukraine, have since placed orders for it.
Tokyo has yet to approve a Covid-19 vaccine but has agreements with three vaccine makers from the United States and Europe that are undergoing the approval process. A decision is expected to be made in late February.
Japanese health officials reported 3,059 new coronavirus cases on Saturday, taking the total since the start of the health crisis to 242,768.
According to the Japan Broadcasting Corporation, city-level politicians in Tokyo and its surrounding prefectures have urged the national government to declare a state of emergency to slow the movement of people and halt the spread of the virus.
This article Coronavirus vaccine: Beijing responds to claims Japanese were given unapproved Sinopharm jabs first appeared on South China Morning Post