Aug. 19 (UPI) — The World Health Organization said it plans to allocate about 3 million doses of Chinese-made vaccines to North Korea, but did not disclose a timeline.
Edwin Salvador, head of the WHO office in Pyongyang, said that 2.97 million doses of China’s Sinovac vaccines are to be delivered to North Korea, Radio Free Asia’s Korean service reported Wednesday.
“We are still waiting for [North Korea’s] response to this offer,” Salvador said.
According to the U.N. official, the Kim Jong Un regime has already developed the national vaccine deployment plan and that a “Technical Assistance plan for its rollout has also been developed.”
“With COVID-19 vaccines now being able to be stored between [35.6 and 46.4 degrees Fahrenheit], and [with North Korea] having a good track record on routine immunization, the [country’s] immunization system and network is expected to manage the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccination with adequate technical support such as on cold chain logistics and monitoring and surveillance during its implementation,” Salvador said.
It is unclear whether North Korea will accept shipments of Chinese vaccines.
South Korea’s spy agency said in February that China most likely approached North Korea with vaccine offers, but the nation did not respond. The Sinovac vaccine was revealed in January to have an efficacy rate of about 50% in trials.
North Korean workers in China may already have received Chinese vaccines. Yonhap reported earlier this month that North Korean restaurant workers were waiting to be vaccinated at a hospital in Shenyang, Liaoning Province.
North Korea has not publicly confirmed receipt of any COVID-19 vaccines after requesting to receive 1,7 million doses of vaccines from the World Health Organization’s COVAX Facility earlier this year.
COVAX has said it would eventually allocate a total of 1.99 million doses to the country.