Numerous parents who were hesitant to vaccinate their children have been pressured to do so. But the consequences of this action seem to be expressing itself as children in China are being diagnosed with leukemia after taking Chinese COVID vaccines.
Li Jun’s 4-year-old suffered a fever and cough after taking her first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination, which immediately dropped after intravenous therapy at the hospital. However, after the second shot, the father realized something wasn’t right.
His daughter’s eyes began to swell and would not go away. The girl had been complaining for weeks about leg problems and bruises that appeared out of nowhere. The 4-year-old was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in January, only weeks after the second treatment.
“My baby was perfectly healthy before the vaccine dose,” Li (an alias) told the media from China’s north-central Gansu Province. “I took her for a health check. Everything was normal.”
He is one of hundreds of Chinese who have joined a social media group claiming to have been diagnosed with leukemia or to have a family member who has been diagnosed with leukemia after receiving Chinese vaccinations. When journalists contacted them, eight of them verified the scenario. To preserve the interviewees’ anonymity, their names have been changed.
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The leukemia cases come from all around China and include people of all ages. However, Li and others alluded to an increase in patients in the younger demographic in recent months, which coincided with the regime’s campaign to inoculate youngsters aged 3 to 11 years old, which began last October.
Li’s daughter received her first injection at the suggestion of her kindergarten in mid-November. According to Li, she is currently having chemotherapy at the Lanzhou No. 2 People’s Hospital, where at least 20 children, who are mostly between the ages of 3 and 8, are being treated for identical symptoms.
“Our doctor from the hospital told us that since November, the children coming to their hematology division to treat leukemia have doubled the previous years’ number and they are having a shortage of beds,” he said.
At least eight youngsters from the Suzhou district, where Li lives, have lately died of leukemia, according to Li.
The hematology section of the hospital could not be contacted for comment right away.
According to the latest numbers from China’s National Health Commission, approximately 84.4 million children aged 3 to 11 had been immunized as of Nov. 13, accounting for more than half of the population in that age range.
When the effort to vaccinate children first began, there was some pushback from Chinese parents. They were concerned about the absence of information about the consequences of Chinese vaccines on children and teenagers. The vaccinations are made by two Chinese pharmaceutical companies, Sinopharm and Sinovac, and have effectiveness rates of 79 percent and 50.4 percent, respectively, based on data from adult studies.
There is little evidence on the vaccines’ impact on children’s health, and the World Health Organization declared in late November that the two vaccines were not recommended for emergency use on children under the age of 18.
Parents who were hesitant to vaccinate their children, on the other hand, have been pressured to do so. Some employees said they were denied work bonuses or were handed a pep talk by their bosses. In other situations, such as Wang Long’s 10-year-old son, their children suffered penalty ranging from losing honors to being prevented from attending school.
“The school told us last year to take him for vaccination on such and such date, or he can’t go to class,” Wang, from Shandong Province in eastern China, said.
On December 4, the youngster obtained his second dose. He developed lethargy and a mild fever a month later. He is now being treated at Shandong University Qilu Hospital for acute leukemia, which he was diagnosed with on January 18.
Li has met around 500 patients or their family members who are in the same situation using WeChat, a Chinese social networking platform.
When Li and others contacted the local disease control center, they were guaranteed an investigation. However, officials generally concluded that the leukemia cases were “coincidental” and hence unconnected to the immunizations.
Officials said the same thing in 2013, after over a dozen toddlers died as a result of Hepatitis B vaccinations.
However, Li and others in a similar circumstance remain skeptical.
“I dare say they didn’t do any verification but only went through the motions,” said Li.
Authorities, Li believes, are providing him the runaround. Officials told him that a panel of specialists would begin an investigation in his province, but when he contacted the provincial health office, they denied any awareness of the cases, claiming that reports of the cases hadn’t ever managed to reach them.
Li and others demanding investigation into this matter will have a hard time getting their voices heard in China’s huge censorship apparatus, which is continuously filtering out anything perceived detrimental to the communist regime’s interests.
“The information gets blocked the instant we try to post something online. You can’t send it out,” said Li.
When China’s two highest political bodies convened last week for the “Two Sessions,” Beijing’s most important annual gathering, Li proposed lobbying in the capital to gain the authorities’ attention in a WeChat group.
The authorities were promptly alerted by that communication.
“The police called us one by one,” said Li. “They said we have made things up and ordered us to withdraw from the chat group.”
There are indicators, according to Li, that the officials are conscious of the problem. Doctors would first ask patients if they had received the vaccination when they presented with identical symptoms, he added, referencing information obtained from the WeChat group.
“Got it, they would say, and that’s the end of it,” he said of the doctors’ questioning.
When Li called the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV’s hotline in the hopes of gaining media attention, he received the same response.
“As soon as we said the children had taken COVID-19 vaccine, they asked me if she had gotten leukemia. They knew,” said Li. “They said that they got too many calls because of this.”
Treatment costs are estimated to be between 400,000 and 500,000 yuan ($63,093 and $78,867), which is more than 20 times the typical annual income.
Wang, whose 10-year-old son has leukemia, is the family’s sole breadwinner and is already struggling to make house payments. To help pay for his son’s care, he received just roughly 1,000 yuan ($157) from the governmental social assistance program.
“I stayed at the hospital until 4 a.m. the night before,” Wang added, saying that the boy’s mother was “broken” by the news.
“Had he inherited it from the family, we’d accept it as our lot,” Wang said. “But he got sick because of the vaccine. I just can’t reconcile it.”
In the meantime, Li has been borrowing money from family to pay for his hospital bills. He claimed that some of the money comes in the form of 20 and 30 yuan bills, which are roughly comparable to a few dollars.
Officials and the media have not responded to Li.
His acquaintance, who works for the local health authority and oversees vaccination distribution, has advised him not to hold out much hope.
“The officials knew that you could get leukemia, but the ‘arm is no match for the thigh,’” the friend told him, referring to a Chinese metaphor. “This is a national issue.”
Numerous attempts to the Lanzhou City Health Commission, Gansu Province Health Commission, Gansu Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Lanzhou Disease Prevention and Control Center, Jiuquan City Disease Prevention and Control Center, Sinopharm, and Sinovac went unanswered.