One international leader is high risk in many ways and apparently knows about the dangers of COVID-19.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who smokes—a lot—and is defined as obese, according to South Korean lawmakers, reportedly has received an experimental coronavirus vaccine from China. The news comes from a U.S. analyst who cited two unidentified Japanese intelligence sources.
Harry Kazianis, a North Korea expert at the Center for the National Interest in Washington, said Kim, 36, his family and several senior North Korean officials had been vaccinated. There was no name attached to the supplier, Kazianis added, and no indication the vaccine was safe.
“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 for 19FortyFive
In a Reuters story, however, there was some doubt. “Even if a Chinese vaccine had already been approved, no drug is perfect and he would not take that risk when he has (options for) almost complete isolation,” said Choi Jung-hun, an infectious disease expert who defected from North Korea to the South in 2012.
Kim’s health often has been scrutinized during his nine years in power. A recent absence from public view spurred rumors of heart surgery and that he had the coronavirus.
Citing U.S. medical scientist Peter J. Hotez, Kazianis said at least three Chinese companies were developing a coronavirus vaccine, including Sinopharm, an unlisted Beijing-based company. None of the firms have published results of their Phase 3 clinical trials.
The vaccine from Sinopharm was administered to nearly a million people, with none reporting “serious adverse” reactions, according to an article by the company viewed by CNN.