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Chinese official’s wife jailed in new vaccine scandal

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BEIJING: The wife of a Chinese official has been jailed for taking bribes from vaccine manufacturers, a court said Thursday, in a case with echoes of a major scandal that rocked China earlier this year.

The sixty-year-old woman, surnamed Guo, received a three-year sentence for soliciting 1.5 million yuan ($216,000) in bribes from five Chinese vaccine companies, according to a ruling from the Number One Beijing Intermediate People’s Court.

She is the wife of a former employee of the Chinese Food and Drug Administration, who the court documents said was complicit in the scheme.

Guo was taken into custody in April 2015 and charged with accepting bribes in relation to four biotech firms’ efforts to obtain government permits for a variety of vaccines, including those for SARS and avian flu.

A fifth firm also paid her bribes.

The sentence follows the March revelation of a massive vaccine scandal that enraged the Chinese public.

The case involved the improper storage, transport and sale of tens of millions of dollars’ worth of vaccines — many of them expired.

No one was believed to have been harmed, but the story still provoked outrage in a country where families, who were long limited to one child by government policy, fiercely protect their offspring.

Public fury erupted in March after a report revealed that information about the case had been suppressed by authorities who had arrested two key suspects nearly a year earlier.

From 2010, the pair, a mother and daughter from Shandong province in eastern China, sold 25 different kinds of expired or improperly stored vaccines worth more than 570 million yuan ($88 million), the official Xinhua news agency reported at the time.

They included shots for polio, rabies, hepatitis B and flu for both children and adults, Caijing magazine said, citing drug safety officials.

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