SEOUL, South Korea — Isolated North Korea is warning its people to brace for a prolonged struggle against the coronavirus, claiming that broadening outbreaks and muddled immunization programs in other countries show vaccines aren’t the ultimate solution.
The column published by Pyongyang’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper came amid questions on when and how vaccines would arrive in North Korea.
The U.N.-backed program to ship COVID-19 vaccines worldwide said in February that North Korea could receive 1.9 million vaccine doses in the first half of this year. However, COVAX has since warned of global shortages because the Serum Institute of India, which is licensed to produce the AstraZeneca vaccine, is putting its supplies into domestic demand while India’s virus caseload is surging.
The North has claimed a perfect record in keeping out COVID-19, but outside experts have doubted the claim, given its poor health infrastructure and a porous border it shares with China, its economic lifeline.
The state newspaper took an apparent shot at India’s anti-virus campaign without naming the country. It said a certain nation that had “exported vaccines it produced while publicly insisting that it considers the evil virus as defeated,” was now experiencing an explosive surge.
“The cases of other countries provide further proof that vaccines aren’t an all-around solution,” the newspaper wrote.