'Generation Gap' is a monthly series where we ask two Beijingers from two different generations their thoughts on a random issue. This time we ask Du, 22 and Zhang, 55 their reactions to sub-standard vaccines being sold to hospitals in China.
What was your reaction to a pharmaceutical company being found guilty of selling sub-standard vaccines to hospitals in China?
“My family has always stressed the need to have children vaccinated. Everybody in the family underwent vaccination, including me, with all the necessary booster injections that came with it. I always trusted the Chinese healthcare system – I’m quite sure the vaccines I took when I was younger were safe – and it is only recently that safety problems regarding vaccines emerged, with cases every few years. Still, if I was to compare the mainland’s healthcare with, say, Hong Kong’s, where many are going now after the scandal, I’ll admit that healthcare there has a higher credibility. After all, the British rule left a more effective system and better law enforcement. I would trust vaccines sold in Hong Kong more. Better law enforcement is what is really needed now because the pharmaceutical industry is enjoying too much power. The idea that the companies weren't hesitant breaking the law in the name of profit is scary, and suggests the government should introduce much stricter regulations and control on these operators. Now everyone expects the government to fix this problem. After all, the ability to buy alternatives depends on each family’s economic means: whether they can plausibly go abroad."
“This problem needs to be tackled with serious determination and severity. People are starting to think that even apprehending the people responsible might not do much to solve the problem – and that afterwards the case will disappear again from the public discourse without a major restructure of the system. My family will start using imported vaccines only. It doesn’t matter how expensive they are, as long as they are safe. I imagine few people now would trust domestic products after all that has happened. Everybody in China is talking about it and nobody seems to trust the healthcare system anymore. It is already the second biggest scandal in a few years. It’s clear the authorities are not investing enough resources to effectively control the producers, check the quality of the products and so on.”