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N. Korea not cooperating with global vaccine distribution program: report

All News 11:10 July 04, 2021

SEOUL, July 4 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has not been cooperating with a United Nations-led global vaccine distribution program, failing to complete necessary paperwork to receive help against the coronavirus pandemic, a report said Sunday.

Citing an anonymous source, Voice of America (VOA) reported on talks between North Korea and Gavi, a vaccine alliance that helps run COVAX, an international initiative aimed at global distribution of COVID-19 vaccines.

Schoolchildren in Pyongyang undergo temperature checks before entering their classroom, in this photo released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on May 16, 2021. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

According to the report, North Korea has completed only two of the seven required administrative steps. The source told VOA that North Korea has refused entry to international aid workers who could facilitate shipment of vaccines, citing COVID-19 infection concerns.

North Korea has also expressed reservations about the safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine and has been reluctant to sign a liability waiver in case of potential side effects, the VOA report added.

In March, Gavi announced plans to send 1.7 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to North Korea by May.

During a ruling party meeting last Tuesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said a "grave incident" had happened that could threaten the safety of his people and country during the pandemic. It was not immediately clearly what the grave incident entailed.

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