Despite reporting zero cases of the coronavirus, North Korea has applied to receive COVID-19 vaccines from a humanitarian group and has asked multiple countries how to obtain vaccines, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
The country applied to Gavi, an international group that assists poorer nations in obtaining vaccines, a person familiar with the matter told the WSJ. Gavi did not confirm to the Daily Caller News Foundation that North Korea requested vaccine assistance, but said it would release more information in January.
“We’re in the process of assessing individual economies’ vaccines requests and expect to be able to provide an update this month,” a Gavi spokesperson told the DCNF.
In the past weeks, North Korea contacted numerous European embassies regarding how they can get COVID-19 vaccines, people familiar with the matter said, according to the WSJ. The U.S. said in February that it was prepared to “expeditiously facilitate” aid groups seeking to assist the country, the WSJ reported. (RELATED: Kim Jong Un Is Reportedly Executing People For Not Following COVID-19 Protocols)
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North Korea hasn’t reported a single case of the virus but the country’s government has called fighting the virus a matter of national survival, The WSJ reported. North Korea closed its borders, suspended travel between foreign countries and state media warned its citizens about the new virus strain, telling them to be on “maximum alert,” according to the WSJ.
North Korea has boasted about not having any virus cases, but it’s also a delicate subject, the WSJ reported. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, criticized South Korea’s foreign minister, Kang Kyung-wha for saying it was “hard to believe” their neighboring country’s claim of no COVID-19 cases, according to another WSJ report.
Almost 12,000 of North Koreans had been tested for the virus as of Dec. 17 and thousands have quarantined, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), the WSJ reported. Health experts and foreign officials, however, doubt that the country hasn’t had any COVID-19 cases.
Gavi announced in December that 86 of the 92 poorest nations have asked for vaccine assistance and are qualified for the Covax Advance Market Commitment program. The program’s goal is to evenly allocate 1.3 billion vaccine doses received from donor funds for the target countries.
The country is especially susceptible to the virus, accounting for its poverty and feeble healthcare framework, the WSJ reported. North Korea hasn’t been able to access banks outside the country.
North Korea isn’t allowed to import metal goods and computers, putting them at a risk of healthcare crises, The Hill reported.
The State Department didn’t immediately respond to a request for a comment.
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