Skip to main content
Amnesty International UK
Log in

North Korea: International isolation is putting lives at risk as Covid-19 hits

North Korea

Responding to North Korean state media declaring a “maximum national emergency” after the country’s first officially reported Covid-19 outbreak, Amnesty International’s East Asia Researcher Boram Jang said:

“There is no evidence to show that North Korea has access to enough vaccines to protect its population from Covid-19. Yet, it has rejected millions of doses of AstraZeneca and Sinovac vaccines offered by the WHO-led COVAX programme, a global Covid-19 vaccine distribution mechanism which requires transparent distribution and monitoring.

“With the first official news of a Covid-19 outbreak in the country, continuing on this path could cost many lives and would be an unconscionable dereliction of upholding the right to health.

“It is vital that the North Korean Government acts now to protect the right to health of one of the world’s populations with lowest access to vaccines and one of its most fragile health systems. That means providing access to vaccines without discrimination and guaranteeing a transparent vaccine distribution plan which is subject to public scrutiny.

“It should immediately establish plans to secure Covid-19 vaccines for its population by cooperating with the international community.

“The Government must also ensure that all emergency measures taken to combat Covid-19, such as lockdowns, are reasonable and proportionate – meaning as limited as possible. They should not be abused and should be lifted as soon as they are no longer necessary for protecting public health.”

View latest press releases