Coronavirus vaccine Photograph:( Reuters )
North Korea has one of the worst healthcare systems in the world and many hospitals do not have access to running water or electricity.
The COVID-19 vaccine race has got a new entrant -- North Korea. As per North Korea's Commission of Science and Technology clinical trials started in early July. Now, there is talk of phase-3 of human trials. The question is how can North Korea even reach this stage?
The country claims to have zero COVID-19 cases.
North Korea has provided no data regarding phase-1 and phase-2 trials. Both the rounds involve human subjects. Also, there is no mention of the vaccine in the WHO list of vaccines under trial. It is for these reasons that the claim seems bogus.
Developing a vaccine costs billions of dollars, not to mention global cooperation. So, how could the economically strained and isolated North Korea claim to have found a vaccine?
North Korea has one of the worst healthcare systems in the world and many hospitals do not have access to running water or electricity. The self-inflicted isolation from the world means, North Korea's medical institutes do not have the know-how to match the world. It has never developed a vaccine of its own. The WHO has been supplying vaccines and immunisation to North Korea as it is a poor country.
Food shortages have become worse due to bad weather, lack of fertiliser and a drop in international donation. One out of three people live on less than one dollar per day.
North korea obviously does not have the money to invest millions into vaccine research but why does it make such tall claims? Because the vaccine race has become a matter of pride for many countries.A chance for leaders to whip of nationalistic pride and North Korea's supreme leader Kim jong-un is no different. There is widespread fear in the country that the state is covering up Wuhan virus cases. Claims of an antidote may ease the problem and offer a sense of safety with or without a vaccine.