Batch of 12,000 blood plasma found contaminated with HIV in China

Chinese officials did not say how many patients had been treated with the blood product

Chinese officials did not say how many patients had been treated with the blood product

More than 12,000 bottles of blood plasma meant for health treatments that were produced by a Chinese pharmaceutical company have tested positive for HIV antibodies, causing an uproar among the Chinese public.

A statement from the National Medical Products Administration said tests for HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C all turned out negative.

The presence of the HIV virus in the product was first detected by the Jiangxi Provincial Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, in southeast China, according to state media.

The commission said the risk of HIV infection is "very low" for those who have been injected the product, based on related literatures, manufacturing technique and the pH value of the product.

The batch of 12,229 50ml bottles of intravenous immunoglobulin, a blood product produced from human plasma and contains antibodies to treat immune deficiencies, was manufactured by the Shanghai Xinxing Pharmaceutical Company, China's second-largest medical blood products manufacturer.

The products involved have been sealed and medical institutions nationwide have been asked to stop using them while investigations continue, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Further investigations are underway.

The product is made by collecting immunoglobulin from donated blood plasma; donors are generally strictly screened for diseases. Months earlier, faulty diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough vaccines resulted in the government slapping a record penalty of an equivalent of 1.3 billion USA dollars on the vaccine manufacturer, Changchun Changsheng Biotechnology Company.

Public outrage over such 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.

Also see in the New York Times an op-ed by global health expert Huáng Yánzhōng 黄延中: If a government can't deliver safe vaccines for children, is it fit to rule?

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.

A follow-up monitoring plan has been made for these people, it said.

This week's particular scandal recalls a massive HIV outbreak caused by lax sanitation procedures for plasma donations and transfusions.

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

"This was a man-made catastrophe".

The Associated Press contributed reporting to this story.