Can North Korea be a hotbed for new Covid mutations?

Despite claims that North Korea is controlling the outbreak of the coronavirus, the International Health Agency has been isolated due to vaccine restrictions, rudimentary medical facilities, and poor health of the general population. We are concerned that the environment is ideal for new variants of the virus to emerge.

Virgologists point out that South Africa, with its surprisingly high HIV prevalence, has problems stopping the spread of the disease and has been responsible for at least one new mutation that has been spreading around the world ever since. I am. South Africa chose to quarantine because it actively fought the virus with external support, and refused to provide vaccines and other medical devices in the early stages of the pandemic.

In mid-May, the government finally admitted what virologists had always expected. Covid-19 spread rapidly among locals, and previous reports of unspecified “fever” across the country were cases of the virus.

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Pyongyang claims that the coronavirus infection rate is steadily declining despite offers from foreign governments and health agencies. On Tuesday, state media reported 61,730 new cases of “fever”, bringing the total number of cases since late April to 4.19 million. , About 1 in 6 of the 25.78 million population.

A little confidence in the official numbers

However, the virus may be evolving because external aid agencies are not allowed to enter secret states to measure the true scale of the problem and there is little confidence in official figures. There is growing concern.

“I think the situation seen in South Korea, where the coronavirus outbreaks in a high HIV prevalence population, is similar to what is happening in North Korea,” said 2020, chairman of the Japan Infectious Diseases Association. An advisory board established to advise the Japanese government at the onset of the initial health crisis.

“Health authorities there had problems eradicating the virus, and in some places it mutated into a new strain,” he told DW.

Mr. Tateda also points out that North Korea has a serious problem with tuberculosis. Tuberculosis is also transmitted in the air among people.

“For many years it was difficult to stop the spread of tuberculosis. We can see the same thing happening in Covid. Of course, this was a poor health system, food shortages, and vaccinations. We believe that few people are there. “

At a recent seminar in Seoul investigating the situation in North Korea, Professor Kim Sing-gon of Korea University School of Medicine revealed that delta and omicron variants of the virus have emerged in regions of India and South Africa with relatively low levels. Of the vaccinations I pointed out.

“This is why South Korea and the world should pay more attention to the fight against North Korea’s Covid-19. Its zero vaccine rate is deeply concerned,” the Korea Times quoted.

Fear of 40 percent of the population

Kim said the official numbers for the infection were largely unreliable and estimated that the virus could already have completely infected 40% of North Korea’s population.

That concern was repeated by the World Health Organization, which warned in May that “unchecked transmissions” in North Korea could lead to the emergence of new variants of the virus.

At a press conference, Mike Ryan, director of emergency for the organization, said:

Ryan asked how WHO intends to intervene in North Korea, and the organization is ready to provide support, but the power to intervene unilaterally even when life is at stake. He said he had no choice but to wait for an invitation from the North Korean government. ..

For Dr. Edwin Salvador, the WHO representative of North Korea, it is the greatest frustration in his efforts to provide assistance.

Lack of information

“Through our national office, WHO shared with national authorities recommended priority actions for Covid response, along with links to various WHO guidelines,” he told DW.

“WHO also shares a list of deployable consumables such as masks, gloves and personal protective equipment.”

He said he was still waiting for a reply from Pyongyang.

WHO provided North Korea with information on the mutant strains of concern and their characteristics, Salvador added, and shared laboratory guidance and online training resources on Covid-19 testing and sequencing, which is possible. There is still not enough information to do. He said it was an organization that provided more targeted solutions.

“The only source of information about the number of people with a” fever “in North Korea remains the state media,” he said. Cases from countries with similar numbers of cases. “


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