Chinese authorities summoned officials of AstraZeneca China regarding an investigation of suspected medical insurance fraud by the company's employees, the National Healthcare Security Administration (NHSA) said on Saturday.
The regulator of the state medical insurance fund said authorities ordered the arrest of all suspects, but did not give details of the suspected violations or the size of funds involved.
It demanded that AstraZeneca China close loopholes in supervision of marketing activities, the NHSA added.
In a statement on Friday, the company said some employees in the southern city of Shenzhen had altered or participated in altering patients' testing reports, and were suspected of medical insurance fraud.
The NHSA and public security ministry held a meeting with company officials in December to brief them on the investigation, it added.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
"AstraZeneca China takes such employee misconduct seriously and welcomes the recommendations by the NHSA and MOPS," it said.
An AstraZeneca spokesperson said all employees involved in the Shenzhen case were Chinese nationals.
The company has taken disciplinary action against those employees and has reported their violations to the authorities, the statement said.