North Korea rejects Chinese offer of 3 million Covid vaccine doses, again claiming to have no cases

North Korea has maintained that it has not registered even a single Covid-19 case in the country

Maroosha Muzaffar
Thursday 02 September 2021 13:02
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<p>A worker checks syringes in Beijing</p>

A worker checks syringes in Beijing

North Korea has rejected an offer of three million Covid vaccine doses from China, claiming that the country has zero Covid-19 cases, UNICEF said on Wednesday.

China had offered Sinovac Biotech vaccines to North Korea but it rejected the offer and instead asked China to supply vaccines to low-income nations that are severely affected by the virus.

North Korea has maintained that it has not registered even a single Covid-19 case in the country, but experts have cast doubt over this claim.

North Korea has since the beginning of the pandemic imposed strict anti-virus safety measures including closing its borders and putting restrictions on domestic travel.

Reuters reported that a spokesman for the United Nations Children’s Fund said that the ministry will continue to communicate with the Covax facility to receive vaccines in the coming months.

In July also, North Korea had rejected planned shipments of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine that were being organised under the global Covax distribution scheme due to concerns over side effects.

Covax had said that it would provide nearly two million doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to North Korea. The first batch was in fact expected in late May but reports said that it was delayed due to protracted consultations, South Korea’s Unification Ministry had said in June.

Several countries have also raised concerns about the safety of Chinese-manufactured Covid-19 vaccines.  Mongolia, Bahrain and Seychelles were among the nations that had easy access to Chinese-made vaccines but battled surges.

The Institute for National Security Strategy had then said that North Korea was not keen on Chinese vaccines due to concerns they may not be that effective, but it has shown interest in shots made in Russia, Reuters reported.

Other countries like Thailand and Uruguay have begun using other vaccines for those who received the Sinovac shot as their first dose in a bid to increase protection.

“We continue to work with DPRK authorities to help respond to the Covid-19 pandemic,” a spokesman for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation alliance, one of the organisations that co-leads Covax scheme, said, referring to North Korea by its formal name - the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

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