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COVID-19: China expels from Parliament its top vaccine scientist for ‘graft’

COVID-19: China expels from Parliament its top vaccine scientist for ‘graft’

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Virendra Pandit

New Delhi: China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) has expelled the country’s top scientist Yang Xiaoming, who developed the first inactivated COVID-19 vaccine at the height of the pandemic in 2020, from Parliament for alleged corruption.

Yang Xiaoming, the chairman of China National Pharmaceutical Group’s vaccine subsidiary China National Biotec Group (CNBG), has been stripped of his NPC membership because of alleged “serious discipline and law violations,” official media reported on Monday.

It came as no surprise in a closed country where even the mildest critic of President-for-Life Xi Jinping and his pocket borough Communist Party of China (CPC) is routinely imprisoned on similar trumped-up charges. Thousands of people, including top officials, have been incarcerated for months and years for no apparent reason other than mere suspicion.

Yang, 62, is a veteran researcher who headed the CNBG – a vaccine subsidiary of state-owned Sinopharm – and led a team that developed Sinopharm’s BBIBP-CorV vaccine, China’s first coronavirus shot approved for general use.

COVID-19 first surfaced in the Chinese city of Wuhan in January 2020 and later spread worldwide as the pandemic of the century, claiming millions of lives.

According to a statement by NPC, Yang is already being investigated by the party disciplinary body the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

The Sinopharm shot and Sinovac Biotech’s CoronaVac were the most widely used vaccines in China which also exported these. The COVID-19 vaccine developed by Yang’s team was approved for general use in December 2020.

Yang’s dismissal comes amid the biggest crackdown on China’s healthcare system, expanding a sweeping anti-corruption drive launched by the Xi regime.

The crackdown aims to root out rampant corruption in a system plagued by kickbacks. It targets hospitals, drug companies, and insurance funds, with dozens of hospital chiefs detained since last year, Hong Kong-based “South China Morning Post” (SCMP) reported.

Another former Sinopharm senior executive, Zhou Bin, who once served as the company’s deputy general manager, was placed under investigation by the CCDI in January 2024.

China’s national 863 program is a state-funded and administered platform for developing advanced technologies.

Yang was among the recipients of a national award in September 2020 for his role in fighting the pandemic and was later recognized by the Chinese Society of Immunology as an outstanding scholar. He was also awarded the Ho Leung Ho Lee Foundation award, which recognizes Chinese scholars in science and medical fields, the Post reported.


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