COVID-19: North Korea declines offer of three million coronavirus vaccines, says UNICEF

North Korea has rejected about three million doses of China’s Sinovac coronavirus vaccine, UNICEF has said.

A spokesperson for the United Nations Children’s Fund said North Korea‘s public ministry would like their COVID-19 jabs allocated to nations that have low vaccine supplies and surging cases.

The country is part of the UN’s COVAX scheme, which provides shots for low-income nations.

North Korea has not reported any coronavirus cases and has imposed strict measures to combat the disease, including border closures and domestic travel restrictions.

It also pulled out of the delayed Olympic Games because of rising cases in Japan.

A spokesperson for the UN said Pyongyang will continue to communicate with the COVAX facility to receive vaccines in the coming months.

In July, North Korea rejected shipments of AstraZeneca’s vaccine because of concerns over side effects, according to the Institute for National Security Strategy – a South Korean think-tank.

It said North Korea was not keen on Chinese vaccines due to concerns they may not be effective, but it has shown interest in jabs made in Russia.

Several countries such as Thailand and Uruguay are 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 [North Korea] authorities to help respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said a spokesperson for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation alliance, one of the organisations that co-leads COVAX scheme.

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