World

North Korea to receive two million doses of coronavirus vaccine

Britain said on Wednesday it was helping Kenya prepare to roll out the Covid-19 vaccine developed by Astrazeneca and Oxford University, as African nations race to ensure their populations are inoculated.

North Korea, which has yet to record a single case of coronavirus, is expected to receive nearly two million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

According to the COVAX vaccine-sharing programme, the Asian state has been allocated 1,992,000 doses of the jab for the first half of this year.

The supply will come from the 240 million doses licensed to the Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer.

COVAX, which secures vaccines for poor countries, is co-led by the GAVI alliance, the World Health Organisation (WHO), and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.

North Korea is one of only a few countries in the world – the majority of which are Pacific Ocean islands – not to have recorded a single case of coronavirus to the WHO.

Turkmenistan is the only other nation possessing a land border with another country to have not recorded a single COVID case.

However, doubt has been cast on both North Korea and Turkmenistan’s COVID-free claims due to their reputation for heavy state censorship.

North Korea’s ruler, Kim Jong Un, sealed its border with China – the country’s main benefactor – early last year and has since enforced lockdowns in some regions in an effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus.

In July, he hailed his nation’s “shining success” in dealing with the pandemic and said his country had “prevented the inroad of the malignant virus and maintained a stable situation”.

The measures are estimated to have had a devastating impact on its already fragile economy.

North Korea’s ruling principle of self-reliance had previously led to doubts it would participate in global vaccination efforts.

There had even been recent reports it was developing its own COVID vaccine with information hacked from foreign scientists.

It has also been claimed that Kim Jong-un and his family have already been provided with an experimental vaccine by China.

According to data from Johns Hopkins University, there have been more than 104 million coronavirus cases across the world, with more than 86 million vaccine doses now having been administered globally.

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