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North Korea says it’s developing its own coronavirus vaccine

Published on 21/07/20 at 10:13am
Photo by Simon Rosengren

North Korea has announced it is developing a vaccine against COVID-19.

The announcement was made on 18 July by the country’s State Commission of Science and Technology. According to a statement, it is being developed based on the genome sequence of the spike protein on the COVID-19 virus.

The statement also added: “The vaccine utilizes an enzyme being used when the coronavirus enters the cells of a host.”

North Korea maintains it has had zero cases of the virus, and it quickly closed down its border at the start of the year as governments around the world recognised the severity of the spread. According to Dr Edwin Salvador, a WHO representative, only 922 people in a country of 25 million have been tested for the virus, and 25,551 have been quarantined and later released.

The lack of testing has been put down to the country’s dilapidated health care system which relies on WHO assistance.  Many medical facilities do not even have access to a reliable source of electricity or running water while also having short supplies of medicine.

North Korea developing a vaccine so late in the pandemic means it will not be one of the first available, but the goal of creating one is likely to be part of a propaganda campaign as well as reducing the reliance it may have on Western pharmaceutical companies.

Conor Kavanagh

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