A report from the Institute for National Security Strategy (INSS), a South Korean think tank that works closely with the country’s spy unit, has revealed that neighboring North Korea has rejected the import of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccines due to concerns over a few cases of blood clotting in people following inoculation.
The intelligence information detailed that the hermit kingdom was due to receive some 2 million doses of Oxford’s vaccine in May through the Covax scheme. However, the process had been delayed due to North Korean concerns over the vaccine’s safety, as well as worldwide shortages because of India’s vaccine export ban.
Covax, led by the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations, Gavi, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, was designed to alleviate vaccine inequity by donating vaccines to countries that cannot afford to produce or procure high volumes of shots.
Pyongyang was apparently also reluctant to use Chinese vaccines due to doubts of their efficacy, according to the INSS, and is searching for other options for its vaccination campaign.
A recent North Korean state media report saw leader Kim Jong Un dismissing several top officials responsible for enforcing strict Covid-19 measures, a blunder that had resulted in “grave consequences”. In mid-June, it was reported that the country’s strict lockdown measures were to be prolonged, but the duration was not specified.
North Korea had previously proudly proclaimed that it had weathered the storm of the pandemic exceptionally well, stating that the country had no infections in 2020. The secretive nation continued to uphold a similar narrative, even declaring to the WHO that it had no coronavirus cases in early June 2021, having undergone a rigorous regime of testing over 30,000