Kim Jong-un appears to cry during military parade speech
An interim delivery report published yesterday by the COVAX facility, the global vaccine distribution initiative, said it will distribute 1.992 million doses of AstraZeneca/Oxford vaccines produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII) to the hermit state by the end of June. Meanwhile, South Korea will be provided with a minimum of 2.7 million doses of the AstraZeneca/Oxford and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, the report said, according to the Yonhap news agency.
In total, COVAX will distribute 337 million doses to 145 participating countries – roughly 3.3 percent of their total population.
COVAX is a World Health Organization-led multilateral platform which has been tasked with securing equitable vaccine availability.
One of its main aims is to secure and deliver two billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines globally in 2021.
It is co-led by the GAVI alliance, the WHO, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations and the United Nations.
North Korea, led by Kim Jong-un, claims to be free of the disease and has not officially registered a single case, although it has taken stringent border control and other measures to stem the virus spread, including deploying soldiers along its border with China tasked with shooting would-be defectors on sight.
Kim Jong-un has not been seen wearing a mask – but his people routinely do
officials of the Pyongyang City Committee of the Workers’ Party
In addition, in many pictures from last year, Kim’s entourage – but not the Supreme Leader himself – were all wearing facemarks.
South Korea has voiced scepticism about the North’s claims not to have recorded a single case, with Kang Kyung-wha last month saying the idea was “hard to believe”.
Her words drew a sharp rebuke from Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo-jong, who said: “Her real intention is very clear. We will never forget her words and she might have to pay dearly for it.”
Speaking last March, Jung H Pak, a former CIA analyst on North Korea, who now works for the US-based Brookings Institute, said: “It’s impossible for North Korea not to have a single case of coronavirus.”
Meanwhile, General Robert Abrams, commander of US Forces Korea, pointed to a lack of military activity in North Korea at the time as evidence of the impact the pandemic was having.
Kim Jong-un speaking last month in Pyong Yang North Korea
He added: “It is a closed-off nation, so we can’t say emphatically that they have cases, but we’re fairly certain they do.
“What I do know is that their armed forces had been fundamentally in a lockdown for about 30 days and only recently have they started routine training again. As one example, they didn’t fly an airplane for 24 days.”
The AstraZeneca vaccine is currently at the centre of a Europe-wide wrangle, with multiple countries saying they will not offer the jab to anyone over the age of 65.
Norway became the latest country to do so, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (FHI) said today.
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AstraZeneca developed its vaccine in partnership with Oxford University
So far, some 135,000 individuals in Norway have received their first dose against the disease and some 35,000 have received their second shot, from vaccines made by Moderna and from a partnership between Pfizer and BioNTech, the agency said.
The FHI said there had been few participants above the age of 65 in the trial conducted by AstraZeneca, meaning there was a lack of documentation as to the effect of the vaccine on older age groups.
Clement Beaune, France’s Minister for European Affairs, yesterday stirred up controversy after he claimed the UK was risking lives by not following suit.
He told French broadcaster LCI: “The UK is mainly counting on one vaccine, AstraZeneca.
Covid vaccinations live
“The UK, given its difficult health situation, has taken huge risks that our scientists have warned us against.”
“Health authorities in France, in Germany and yesterday the European health authority have said it.
“They do not recommend the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine in people over 65.
“We respect it and that forces us to adapt our vaccine strategy and use it in other age groups.
North Korea: Mask-wearing members of the public in Pyong Yang
“The UK is less cautious than us. I can understand it because their health situation is very difficult.”
Nevertheless, a new study published hours earlier indicated one dose of the Oxford vaccine was likely to cut transmission of coronavirus by two thirds, apparently vindicating the UK’s strategy of delaying a second jab for up to 12 weeks.
Researchers believe the first dose of the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab affords protection of 76 percent for up to three months and could reduce transmission by 67 percent – with efficacy rising to 82.4 percent after the second dose 12 weeks later.
The data from the study by the University of Oxford, which is yet to be peer reviewed, backs the four to 12-week prime-boost dosing interval which many global regulators, including the UK’s, have recommended.