Covax, a global vaccine exchange initiative, announced on Tuesday that it has donated over 4.7 million doses of the Covid-19 vaccine to North Korea, which is believed to have had no vaccinations yet.
North Korean officials did not immediately respond to this announcement.
The reclusive government has not reported any coronavirus cases and has rejected several previous dose proposals, including from Covax, China and Russia. But in June, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said that failures in his country’s anti-pandemic campaign had triggered a “big crisis” that, according to state media reports, threatens “serious consequences.” He did not specify, he meant an outbreak of the disease in the country.
Although North Korea claims to be Covid-free, it has responded to the coronavirus crisis by closing its borders in January 2020 and skipping the Tokyo Olympics this year.
The World Health Organization said its shipments of medical supplies, as well as other international shipments destined for North Korea, were stuck in China when Pyongyang closed its borders. The agency said last month that it had resumed shipments of medicines to North Korea, likely signaling an easing of Pyongyang’s closed border policies at the start of the pandemic.