North Korea has rejected roughly three million COVID-19 vaccine doses developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech, saying the shots should be sent to harder-hit countries, the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday, citing UNICEF.
The agency, which helps deliver COVID-19 shots on behalf of the COVAX scheme, told WSJ that North Korea’s public health ministry declined the shipment, citing the limited global supply for vaccines and continuing virus surges elsewhere.
North Korea had in July rejected shipments of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine due to concerns over side effects, according to a South Korean think-tank.
The reclusive country has not reported any COVID-19 cases and has imposed strict anti-virus measures, including border closures and domestic travel curbs.
UNICEF did not immediately respond to Reuters’ request for comment.
“We continue to work with DPRK authorities to help respond to the COVID-19 pandemic,” a spokesperson for the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization alliance, one of the organisations that co-leads COVAX, said in an emailed statement.