China says tests of human immunoglobulin are HIV negative

Modesto Morganelli
Febbraio 8, 2019

The investigation began after a baby in Jiangxi province had initially tested "weak" positive for HIV during a health check, exposure that was traced to the batch under investigation, domestic media the China Economic Observer reported.

"Shanghai authorities have run virus tests for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C on the reported batch and they all show negative", the National Medical Products Administration said in a statement on late Wednesday.

Chinese investigators said Thursday tests on a batch of a plasma product feared to have been contaminated with HIV have turned up negative for the virus that causes AIDS.

The NHC said it will continue to monitor the situation and will cooperate with China's State Food and Drug Administration. They were originally cleared by the Shanghai Food and Drug Inspection Institute in October.

Immunoglobulins, also known as antibodies, are produced by plasma cells to fight pathogens in the body.

China has struggled in the past with the spread of HIV due mainly to infected blood transfusions, according to the BBC, but recent reports show that the number of people in the country contracting the virus in this way has dropped almost to zero.

China's National Health Commission (NHC), which launched an investigation into the matter, said experts believe the risk of HIV infection in patients using the drug was very low.

'In theory, the risk of HIV transmission exists, but the chances remain slim, ' Dr Wang added.

Intravenous immunoglobulin therapy is often used to treat immune disorders caused by illnesses such as leukaemia, or acute inflammation and chemotherapy infections.

It is controlled by the listed China Meheco Group, one of China's biggest pharmaceutical firms, which is in turn owned by the China General Technology Group, a state-owned enterprise.

Beijing has repeatedly vowed tighter oversight and crackdowns on firms and officials after food and drug safety scandals sparked public outrage, such as one last month over expired polio vaccines and another previous year over a rabies vaccine.

In July, it was revealed that at least 252,600 doses of substandard DPT vaccine - meant to prevent three infectious diseases - had been sold by Changchun Changsheng Bio-technology and administered to children as young as three months in eight cities.

But the incident will likely further erode consumer trust in Chinese medical products, and comes after a major scandal in 2018 involving faulty vaccines.

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