Batch of 12,000 blood plasma found contaminated with HIV

A child receives a vaccination at a hospital in Huaibei eastern China's Anhui province

China is investigating a manufacturer of medical products following reports that it sold human immunoglobulin for intravenous injection that had possibly been contaminated with HIV, though the authorities said tests found no sign of the virus.

The results of the nucleic acid test (NAT) on HIV, HBV and HCV for medical products manufactured by Shanghai-based China Meheco Xinxing Pharma Co., Ltd. were all negative, the National Medical Products Administration (NMPA) said in a statement.

One unnamed Shanghai doctor cited in Chinese media said that patients who received a tainted IVIg infusion might not become infected with HIV because IVIg includes an anti-virus treatment.

The National Health Commission on Tuesday reported to the administration that a batch of Meheco-produced plasma products tested positive for the HIV antibody.

Shanghai Xinxing Pharmaceutical has been instructed to halt production of the vaccine and to initiate an emergency recall.

Further investigations are underway.

The plasma is used for an immune therapy treatment for illnesses such as leukemia.

South China Morning Post reports that "The faulty batch comprised 12,229 50ml bottles of plasma due to expire in June 2021".

Public faith in China's health regulators has been shaken by previous scandals. The authorities had failed to act immediately after finding inconsistencies in the company's records in late 2017.

Public outrage over medical scandals has alarmed the leadership of the ruling Communist Party, moving it to respond more quickly and firmly than in the past, including bringing criminal charges and billion dollar fines.

Shanghai Xinxing is the country's leading manufacturer of blood products.

The ABC approached the China Meheco Group and various government bodies for clarification but was not able to receive a response - most government offices and companies are now closed in China due to Lunar New Year public holiday.

The NHC, citing global medical literature and findings, maintained chances of contracting HIV infection are extremely low for patients that have been administered the contaminated blood plasma.

"The detection of HIV antibodies ... could mean that [the products] have been contaminated by the blood of HIV-infected people", said Wang Yuedan, deputy director of Peking University Health Science Center's department of immunology, in an interview with the Beijing News. Towns that were particularly hard-hit, many in Henan province, became known as "AIDS villages".

The Associated Press contributed reporting to this story.

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