3,000 petition Chinese political elites over COVID vaccines

Most claimed they contracted leukemia and diabetes after being vaccinated with the Chinese vaccine.
By Yitong Wu and Chingman for RFA Cantonese
2024.03.01
3,000 petition Chinese political elites over COVID vaccines File photo of a healthcare worker preparing a dose of the Chinese-produced Sinovac vaccine.
Willy Kurniawan/Reuters

UPDATED at 8:07 am ET on March 1, 2024.

Luo Zhehan, a primary school student in China’s Jiangsu province, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia after being vaccinated with a domestically-produced COVID-19 vaccine and passed away a month afterwards. Believing there was a link between the two, his family tried to seek justice from authorities, but said they faced threats of imprisonment during their pursuit.

Nearly 3,000 people who say they have suffered illnesses and severe side effects from the vaccine have issued a petition calling on the authorities to take responsibility, as representatives vowed to take their grievances to Beijing during the “two sessions” meetings that will open next Tuesday. Like Luo’s family, however, they face an uncertain and challenging path ahead.

Qian Dalong, the victims’ representative in Beijing told Radio Free Asia that the authorities have blocked the petition on the internet after it spread online rapidly, while many human rights representatives have been monitored by the police or placed under house arrest. 

The two sessions are the state’s most important annual political meetings – the concurrent meetings of the National People’s Congress, or NPC, top legislature, and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference , the political advisory body to the Chinese Communist Party. 

But he said the group has mailed the petition to delegates of the two sessions, hoping to draw their attention to their plight.

“[The authorities have] set up layers of obstacles to prevent people from speaking. We have already mailed [the petition] to them. Whether the delegates have a conscience, or dare to take up the issue? We don’t know.”

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Qian Dalong says he is currently being surveilled. (Photo provided by Qian Dalong)

Qian said he suddenly became paralyzed after taking the third dose of the Chinese vaccine, Sinovac. He revealed the side effects of the vaccine on Chinese social media last July, which led to a month of detention and the blockade of his Weibo account. Attempts to contact the authorities via the government to take responsibility failed.

“There should be more than 3,000 victims, as some don’t even realize that it’s because of the vaccine,” he said.

Most of the nearly 3,000 victims who signed the petition have contracted leukemia (2,973 cases) and type 1 diabetes, according to a post by the Chinese blog Weiquanwang, which translates into Rights Protection Network, on Feb. 22. 

The victims and their families last called out to the Chinese government to investigate and take responsibility in February last year. 

In an open letter, they called on the National Health Commission to investigate all cases of major health problems occurring after vaccination, and to call in independent and scientific investigators to probe their claims, as well as pay the medical expenses of those left sick or disabled by vaccines, and offer them appropriate levels of care.

RFA cannot independently confirm the claims made by the petitioners and whether there is scientific evidence of a link between the vaccine and the illnesses. China has faced international criticism over its lack of transparency over its response to COVID-19. The National Health Commission and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention did not respond to requests for comment.

Systemic problem

An expert involved in handling public health incidents and did not want to be named for fear of reprisal believes that China’s public health incidents are systemic problems. 

“In the history of China’s public health, similar incidents have emerged one after another. The most terrifying thing about this country is not the technical problem,” said the expert. “The Chinese government and vaccine companies are bound by interests. There has never been transparent data and credible information. The system is shady, so what defenders are facing is not just a company, but the entire government.” 

The expert called on the health ministry to act as a coordinator for the drug company to fork out the money for a third agency to establish a fund that the victims can supervise. The fund will be used for the immediate treatment of victims and for their long-term well-being. 

“But I don’t have any hope,” the expert added.

According to China’s “Vaccine Administration Law,” the state implements a compensation system for abnormal vaccination reactions. But the government has brought forth official experts to refute victims’ claims.

One was the Chinese Academy of Sciences fellow, Wang Fusheng who slammed the victims and rights advocates’ claims as “irresponsible,” reiterating that research has shown the vaccine does not cause leukemia and diabetes.

Translated with additional reporting by RFA Staff. Edited by Taejun Kang and Mike Firn.

Updates to clarify that the victims believe there is a causal link between the vaccine and illnesses and severe side effects. Adding that RFA cannot independently confirm a link between the two.

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