North Korea Kovid: Pyongyang will not accept aid to end crisis, experts fear

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With nearly 2 million recorded coronavirus case loads, next to any vaccine, scattered medical infrastructure and limited ties to the global health community, North Korea, which has long avoided outside help, appears to be on the brink of a crisis.

Although it is too late to stop the full force of the country’s first wave through vaccine promotion, there are other provisions that can be donated, ranging from strong antiviral treatments to general protective gear for health workers, which can slow and protect against outbreaks. The most risky. However, it is unclear whether North Korea will accept such assistance in the face of disaster.

In the past two years, as the epidemic has spread around the world, North Korea has rejected offers of multiple coronavirus vaccines. Instead, the country, already isolated by hermeneutics and sanctions by choice, has closed its borders to maintain a “zero covid” system.

What you need to know about the Kovid crisis in North Korea

Method failed. Experts warn that the country’s cowardly death toll could exceed 100,000, with North Korea’s population of 25 million providing fertile ground for the new look.

On almost all accounts that are completely unvaccinated, North Korea faces incredible risks from the rapidly expanding BA.2 submarine of omicron identified in the country. While vaccines can help prevent a crisis of this scale, it cannot be managed quickly and extensively to stop it once it starts.

Joshua Polak, a senior research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey and co-author of a December study that called for an immediate end to the epidemic in North Korea, said it was too late for a mass vaccination campaign. . “

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Instead, Polak and his co-author Ferenc Dalnocki-Veres told The Washington Post that the United States and other countries should focus on finding other supplies in North Korea – including antiviral drugs such as Pfizer-produced Paxlovid.

“Show them that the American people are thinking about what will happen to the people of North Korea, no matter what the government says,” Dalnoki-Veres, a scientist-in-residence at Middlebury College, said in an email.

J., director of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “There is no better alternative,” said Stephen Morrison. “But there are some things that can be done that, if done quickly, can start to reduce some of the bad consequences.”

The manner in which North Korea refuses aid – as well as its recent missile launch ahead of President Biden’s upcoming visit to the region – complicates efforts to supply the country. White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan on Wednesday warned of the possibility of a nuclear test, a missile test or both in the run-up to a visit to South Korea and Japan.

Why Covax, the world’s best hope for vaccination, failed

Last year, Pyongyang was offered shipments of the AstraZeneca vaccine by Kovacs, a World Health Organization-backed program to get vaccine doses in countries that would not otherwise be able to afford them. A spokesman for Gavir, a non-profit organization that collects and distributes vaccines for Kovacs, said there had been “no formal request” from North Korea for coronavirus vaccine or other assistance.

Bilateral requests have also been denied. A South Korean official said Thursday that for the third day in a row, North Korean officials have not indicated whether they will accept the offer of help from Seoul.

A senior U.S. administration official says the United States has no plans to share the vaccine with North Korea, although the বিল 1 billion Pfizer dose that Washington bought for Kovacs could be used if the agency wishes and gets the green light.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak on condition of anonymity, said North Korea was “taking away resources to exploit its own citizens and build its illegal nuclear and ballistic weapons program.”

With the resumption of the world, North Korea is one of the two non-vaccinated countries

Neighboring China is one of the only countries that can get help from North Korea. South Korean media reported this week that for the first time in two years, flights between China and North Korea have resumed, possibly carrying emergency supplies.

Speaking at a news conference in Geneva on Tuesday, Mike Ryan, the WHO’s emergency chief, said the agency had “no special power to intervene” and called on neighboring countries to help.

A major outbreak in North Korea could be worse or worse in terms of deaths, with the first wave hitting the United States and Europe in the spring of 2020.

“If it has already reached one and a half million cases, what, in a few weeks? It will double every week – more than double every week – unless you have a sedative and try to stop it, “said John P. Moore, professor of microbiology and immunology at Cornell University’s Weill Cornell Medicine.

William Hanez, co-director of the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics at the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health, said that firm estimates for the number of deaths in each case for BA.2 have not been fully established but appear to be close. Ancestor virus that first hit in 2020.

That was about 0.5 percent – suggesting the death toll in North Korea could reach 125,000.

Hanez warned that there were many factors that could affect the mortality rate of a case. North Korea’s relatively young population, with an average age of about 35, is probably less likely to have serious illness and death than the older population.

But many other reasons are not in North Korea’s favor, according to Morrison.

“They do not have the vaccine. They have no antivirals. They don’t have [personal protective equipment] And oxygen, ”he said. “They will not be able to protect their health workers. They do not have an ICU bed. They do not have the capacity to test or monitor. They had very high malnutrition even before Kovid. “

“And then you’ve got a two-year border closure that has led to the erosion of any kind of supply chain within medical supplies,” he added. “It’s wonderful.”

Hanez said an out-of-control outbreak could cause more deaths than standard cases. “The complete loss of control is likely to have some serious knock-on effects on healthcare,” Hanez said. “People will die in the end who would otherwise be healed.”

The uncontrolled spread of BA.2 in North Korea could lead to new forms, a risk that could cross North Korea’s borders.

It is not clear why North Korea rejected the previous vaccine offer. Some analysts point to national pride or the belief that imported aid could help spread the vaccine. Others suggest that North Korea is gearing up for highly effective mRNA vaccines, such as those made by Pfizer, although they do not have the ultra-cold storage network needed for a mass immunization program using those shots.

Some hoped that aid from the United States or other Western countries would lead to better relations in other areas, but Dalnocki-Veres warned that explicitly linking aid to other purposes could be reversed.

“Ultimately, the regime will decide when to open,” he said. “It’s important to have the conditions to be able to transfer as soon as possible.”

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