North Korea, despite its claim that the nation does not have even a single case of coronavirus infection, is seeking help from an international framework designed to guarantee equitable global access to vaccines, diplomatic sources said Tuesday.
Pyongyang reportedly submitted an application to Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance to receive COVID-19 vaccines, but officials from the organization would not comment on the situation, according to a report in The Wall Street Journal, which added North Korea has, in recent weeks, reached out to several European countries, inquiring about how to procure vaccinations.
The COVAX Facility, led by Gavi, channels funds provided by middle- to high-income nations involved in the program toward a number of pharmaceutical companies that are working to develop vaccines, which will also be supplied to low-income countries.
It hopes to supply 2 billion doses of a vaccine across the world by the end of 2021, covering at least 20 percent of the population of each participating country, according to the plan co-led by the World Health Organization.
North Korea has completely closed its borders, including cutting off traffic to and from China and Russia since last February in the wake of the virus's outbreak, dealing a crushing blow to the nation's trade with the two neighbors and, in turn, to the broader economy.
Pyongyang claims the virus has not made inroads into the country, but it has become more nervous about the pandemic amid mounting expectations that the risk of infection will increase during the winter season, North Korean watchers have said.