scorecard
  1. Home
  2. policy
  3. news
  4. China is gunning for the chief scientist of its COVID vaccine project, accusing him of 'serious discipline and law violations'

China is gunning for the chief scientist of its COVID vaccine project, accusing him of 'serious discipline and law violations'

Matthew Loh   

China is gunning for the chief scientist of its COVID vaccine project, accusing him of 'serious discipline and law violations'
  • The chief scientist of China's COVID vaccine project was kicked from the National People's Congress.
  • Yang Xiaoming, 62, is accused of "serious discipline and law violations," a phrase alluding to corruption.

The chief researcher of China's first general-use COVID vaccine was ousted last week from the country's highest organ of power.

Yang Xiaoming, 62, was booted on April 23 from the National People's Congress "due to serious discipline and law violations," state media reported this weekend.

The phrase typically means a person is under investigation for corruption in China.

That means Yang, the chairman of Sinopharm's vaccine subsidiary China National Biotec Group, is no longer one of the nearly 3,000 congressional deputies who make decisions on major national issues.

A congressional report on his dismissal said he served on the Ethnic Affairs Committee.

Yang is a medical researcher who led the Sinopharm team that developed the BBIBP-CorV vaccine, a COVID-19 shot that was the nation's first approved for general use.

Known colloquially as the Sinopharm vaccine, the shot was one of the most widely administered COVID-19 shots in China, with an efficacy of 79% against hospitalization.

Apart from developing the Sinopharm shot, Yang was also the head of China's vaccine project under the 863 program, or Beijing's push to make the country more independent by developing homegrown advanced technologies.

Yang's dismissal has gone viral on Weibo, China's version of X, with thousands of posts questioning the circumstances behind his removal from deputy status. It received around 180 million views and, for several hours, was the platform's hottest topic on Sunday.

The discussion soon morphed into wild speculation that the reason behind his dismissal may have been related to the Sinopharm vaccine, though there has been no evidence to indicate as such.

"The father of the Sinopharm vaccine violated regulations and laws, but it doesn't mean there are problems with the vaccines he developed and produced," wrote "Dr Chen," a popular medical blogger. "Let's wait before panicking."

The announcement about Yang comes amid China's sweeping crackdown on corruption in its healthcare sector, with investigations launched against hundreds of hospital deans and secretaries.

It's been the heaviest disciplinary campaign ever enforced on China's healthcare industry, plagued for years by thousands of commercial bribery cases between pharmaceutical suppliers and healthcare providers.

In August, the anti-corruption campaign caused pharmaceutical A-share stocks in China to fall so sharply that it wiped out an estimated $27 billion market value within one day.


Popular Right Now




Advertisement