SEOUL, May 13 (Yonhap) -- North Korea is still in talks with the COVAX Facility project, a unification ministry official said Thursday, denying a media report that Pyongyang has rejected cooperation with the global vaccine distribution program.
CNN earlier reported that North Korea has rejected the COVAX Facility's offer for discussions to send COVID-19 vaccines to the impoverished country, citing a U.S. government official.
"As far as we know, relevant negotiations are currently under way between the North and the COVAX side," the ministry official told reporters on condition of anonymity without providing more details.
North Korea appears not to be "fully ready" to receive vaccines given that it has to submit various documents and data to COVAX, such as its national vaccination plans and the number of people who will get the shots, a government source said.
The North has been expected to receive around 2 million doses of coronavirus vaccines through COVAX, but they have not been delivered to the country yet.
North Korea has claimed to be coronavirus-free but has taken relatively swift and tough measures against the pandemic, such as imposing strict border controls since early last year.
The World Health Organization recently said in a weekly report on COVID-19 that North Korea has conducted coronavirus tests on around 26,000 people so far but reported no infections.
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