Officially, Covid-19 does not exist in North Korea. Kim Jong Un, the North Korean dictator, had reaffirmed it in October, during a military parade, arguing that there was “not a single person” with the coronavirus in the country. This does not prevent the Pyongyang regime from requesting doses of the vaccine, according to the Vaccine Alliance (Gavi), a member of the UN Covax program.
This is the first official confirmation that Pyongyang has asked for international aid, when North Korea’s medical infrastructure is considered totally inadequate to cope with a large-scale epidemic. The Covax device, co-piloted by the Vaccine Alliance, will distribute 1.99 million doses to North Korea, according to the provisional distribution report for this program, released this week. This should be the AstraZeneca vaccine.
The first country to close its borders
All the countries which are assigned doses in this framework “have submitted requests for vaccines,” a spokesperson for the Gavi Alliance told AFP on Thursday, implying that it is therefore Korea. North itself who made the request. The breakdown mentioned in the report “reflects the latest stock estimates and takes into account the country’s readiness and regulatory approvals,” he added.
North Korea was the first country in the world to close its borders at the end of January 2020, more than a year ago, to protect itself against Covid-19. Its neighboring countries, China and South Korea, were then facing a sharp rise in cases. The two million doses will not be enough if North Korea wishes to vaccinate its entire population: the number of inhabitants is estimated at more than 25 million.
Original article by : www.leparisien.fr