World

Report: North Korea, Eritrea only two nations that haven’t vaccinated citizens against COVID-19 

The Washington Post has reported North Korea and Eritrea are the only two countries in the world that have not vaccinated their populations against COVID-19.

The post quoted a report by the UN special rapporteur on North Korean human rights, Tomás Ojea Quintana, who assessed that the North’s COVID-19 “restrictions, including border closures, appear to have prevented an outbreak inside the country, though likely at considerable cost to the wider health situation and further exacerbating economic deprivation.”

Pyongyang last year turned down nearly two million doses of AstraZeneca vaccines and nearly three million doses of Sinovac vaccines offered by the international COVAX program. They had requested that the Sinovac vaccines instead be re-allocated to severely affected nations.

Nearly 250,000 doses of Novavax vaccines allotted for North Korea by COVAX were canceled early this year, apparently due to a lack of response from Pyongyang. Experts say that Pyongyang’s dissatisfaction with the number and type of vaccines offered likely prompted them to turn down the shipments.

“The vaccines offered to North Korea so far are mostly those from AstraZeneca and Sinovac. What Pyongyang wants is U.S.-made vaccines, such as those from Pfizer,” Lee Wootae, director and research fellow at the Korea Institute for National Unification, told ABC News.

Another expert pointed out that North Korea turned down the vaccine offer because it didn’t fulfill the quantity the isolated regime wanted. “It is not unreasonable for Pyongyang to decide that administering such a small amount of doses would have little effect,” Shin Young-jeon, professor at the Hanyang University College of Medicine, told ABC News.

Some believe Pyongyang’s reluctance is primarily affected by political judgment.

“The message that North Korea overcame a medical crisis with the help of U.S.-made vaccines will be difficult for the Kim Jong Un regime to justify, considering its critical stance towards the U.S.,” Lim Eul Chul, a professor at The Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University, told ABC News.

It has also been speculated that North Korea took exception to possible international supervision.

“For Pyongyang to accept vaccine offers, it must guarantee a transparent vaccine distribution plan. This means letting international monitors into the country and allowing them to interfere with how the vaccine is being distributed, and to whom,” Lim added.

ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH 

MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE

PHOTO CREDITS: YAHOO NEWS

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Paul, 37, is from Scotland in the UK, but currently lives and works in Bangkok. Paul has worked in different industries such as telemarketing, retail, hospitality, farming, insurance, and teaching, where he works now. He teaches at an all-girls High School in Bangkok. “It’s a lot of work, but I love my job.” Paul has an active interest in politics. His reason for writing for FBA is to offer people the facts and allow them to make up their own minds. Whilst he believes opinion columns have their place, it is also important that people can have accurate news with no bias.

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