North Korea has denied an offer of about 3 million COVID-19 vaccine doses developed by Chinese drugmaker Sinovac Biotech, insisting the crucial vaccines should be delivered to nations in low supply with surging cases, according to The Associated Press (AP).
Doses were offered to the reclusive country via the COVAX program, a global initiative backed by the World Health Organization (WHO) that provides vaccines to lower-income countries.
The United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF), which delivers vaccines on behalf of the COVAX program, reportedly said the country declined the shipment and cited limited global supply and virus outbreaks elsewhere. UNICEF did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Changing America.
Shots of AstraZeneca were also previously scheduled to be delivered to the country through COVAX but delivery has been delayed.
AP notes, however, some experts believe the country may be looking to secure doses of more robust vaccines, questioning the effectiveness of the Chinese-made Sinovac and rare instances of blood clots associated with the AstraZeneca jab.
The nation of about 25 million has yet to receive any doses of vaccine and has dubiously claimed that it has no coronavirus cases, but it has nonetheless imposed strict quarantine measures and closed off its borders completely.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Thursday told his state officials they must “bear in mind that tightening epidemic prevention is the task of paramount importance which must not be loosened even a moment,” according to AP.
He called for “further rounding off our style epidemic prevention system,” the outlet reported.
READ MORE STORIES FROM CHANGING AMERICA