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China says vaccines didn’t cause 9 kids’ deaths

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BEIJING — Vaccines did not cause the deaths of nine children shortly after they were inoculated for hepatitis in a Chinese government program and no links have been found in eight other cases still being investigated, health officials said Friday after safety concerns arose.

At the same time, China’s national product safety watchdog said three drug makers — one of whom was scrutinized over the recent deaths — had suspended production because they failed to meet new manufacturing standards.

Public confidence in Chinese health authorities and the country’s drug safety regime is shaky at best, though improvements have been made in recent years since government agencies withheld information about the spread of SARS and bird flu.

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