China has provided North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his family with an experimental coronavirus vaccine, a US analyst said on Tuesday.
Harry Kazianis, a North Korea expert at the Center for the National Interest think tank in Washington, said the Kims and several senior North Korean officials had been vaccinated, citing two unidentified Japanese intelligence sources.
It was unclear which company had supplied its drug candidate to the Kims and whether it had proven to be safe, he added.
China has provided North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (pictured in file photo on October 5) and his family with an experimental coronavirus vaccine, a US analyst said on Tuesday
China has been vaccinating essential workers with Covid-19 vaccine candidates under an emergency scheme launched in July with no reported adverse effects, according to the officials. The file photo shows the Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on November 24
The great communist Covid cover-up: Chinese doctors were recording at least DOUBLE the number of coronavirus cases that Beijing was reporting
China under-reported its coronavirus cases and deaths by up to half during the early stages of the pandemic, leaked documents have revealed.
Beijing has long been accused of under-reporting its coronavirus numbers, but the data gives an idea of the scale of the problem for the first time.
For example, on February 10 China reported 2,478 new cases of the virus across the entire country – but leaked data shows that, on the same date, Hubei province alone logged 5,918 cases.
Meanwhile on March 7, Hubei was officially reporting a cumulative death toll of 2,986, but documents show it actually stood at 3,456.
The official figures, which were reported across the world, downplayed the severity of the outbreak at a time when world leaders were trying to devise their own response strategies – leaving many unprepared for what was to come.
China was able to use the figures and its authoritarian powers to lock down hard and early, all-but wiping the virus out and meaning its economy has grown this year, while under-prepared western democracies have seen their economies devastated.
China has been vaccinating essential workers with Covid-19 vaccine candidates under an emergency scheme launched in July with no reported adverse effects, according to the officials.
In October, a city in eastern China began offering its residents an experimental
Sinopharm, a state-owned Chinese drug firm, said last month that nearly a million people had taken its vaccine candidate, despite the jab had not yet provided any clear clinical evidence of efficacy.
According to the US analyst, Beijing has recently offered the jab to the North Korean leader and his family.
‘Kim Jong Un and multiple other high-ranking officials within the Kim family and leadership network have been vaccinated for coronavirus within the last two to three weeks thanks to a vaccine candidate supplied by the Chinese government,’ Kazianis wrote in an article for online outlet 19FortyFive.
Citing US medical scientist Peter J. Hotez, he said at least three Chinese companies were developing a coronavirus vaccine, including Sinovac Biotech Ltd, CanSinoBio and China National Pharmaceutical Group (Sinopharm), an unlisted Beijing-based company.
But none of the firms have unveiled results of Phase 3 clinical trials of their experimental COVID-19 vaccines, which are under way outside China.
North Korea has not confirmed any coronavirus infections, but South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) has said an outbreak there cannot be ruled out as the country had trade and people-to-people exchanges with China – the source of the pandemic – before shutting the border in late January.
Microsoft said last month that two North Korean hacking groups had tried to break into the network of vaccine developers in multiple countries, without specifying the companies targeted. Sources told Reuters they included British drugmaker AstraZeneca.
The NIS said last week it had foiled North Korea’s attempts to hack into South Korean COVID-19 vaccine makers.
Sinopharm, a state-owned Chinese drug firm, said last month that nearly a million people had taken its vaccine candidate. This file potA staff member displays a sample of the COVID-19 inactivated vaccine at a vaccine production plant of Sinopharm in Beijing on April 10
China has been inoculating essential workers with COVID-19 vaccine candidates under an emergency use programme launched in July. In this file photo taken on September 24, a worker feeds vials for production of SARS CoV-2 Vaccine for COVID-19 at the SinoVac factory