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N. Korea rejects AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine: think tank

North Korea 14:32 July 09, 2021

SEOUL, July 9 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has rejected AstraZeneca's coronavirus vaccine that was to be delivered through the COVAX facility due to concerns about potential side effects, and appears instead to be reaching out to Moscow for Russian-made vaccines, a state-run think tank said Friday.

The North also appears to be reluctant to receive Chinese-made vaccines as it does not trust their efficacy and safety, according to the Institute for National Security Strategy (INSS) associated with the National Intelligence Agency.

"As North Korea has rejected the vaccines planned to be supplied through COVAX due to worries over side effects of the AstraZeneca vaccine, it has explored possibilities of securing alternatives drugs," the INSS said in a report.

"North Korea stays reluctant with regard to Chinese-made vaccines due to distrust over the drugs," it added. "It appears to have positive assessments of Russian-made products but be asking for their supplies free of charge."

The INSS said that even if North Korea succeeds in obtaining Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, it could face difficulty in operating "cold-chain" warehouses to keep them fresh, given its chronic shortage of electricity.

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.

A government official in Seoul earlier said that the delay might be in part because North Korea is not "fully ready" to receive vaccines, such as deciding on its national vaccination plans and the number of people who will get the shots.

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.

Officials disinfect a bus in Pyongyang amid the coronavirus pandemic, in this undated photo released by the North's official Korean Central News Agency on Feb. 19, 2021. North Korea has claimed to be coronavirus-free, but it has implemented relatively swift and extensive antivirus efforts since early last year, including border controls restricting movement of people and goods between the North and China. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)


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