'N. Korea Requested COVAX for Vaccines Other Than AstraZeneca'
A South Korean think tank says North Korea has sounded out the possibility of receiving COVID-19 vaccines other than AstraZeneca's on concerns regarding its side effects.
In a press briefing held at a Seoul hotel on Friday, the Institute for National Security Strategy said North Korea rejected AstraZeneca vaccines that it was slated to receive through COVAX.
It said that Pyongyang has been pursuing COVID-19 vaccines, but has yet to secure any. The think tank says the North is reluctant to bring in Chinese vaccines, deeming them unreliable. While it is more optimistic about Russian-made shots, it is reportedly demanding cost-free support.
COVAX - the global vaccine sharing initiative- in March had allocated nearly two million doses for North Korea and planned to deliver one-point-seven million of them by May, but they have yet to proceed with shipping the shots.
Voice of America recently reported that Pyongyang had yet to complete the necessary administrative procedures for the vaccine shipment and refused to grant entry to international aid workers to facilitate the process.
The South Korean think tank noted that Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require cold chain storage, which would be difficult in a state like North Korea where power supply is unstable.
[Photo : YONHAP News]