North Korea says it has defeated Covid-19, but it's not very credible

North Korea says it has defeated Covid-19, but it's not very credible

North Korea says it has defeated Covid-19

The news would be astonishing, if it were true: the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has in fact declared, in the last hours, that his country would have definitively defeated Covid-19, and that in particular in over 20 days (from 29 July last onwards) there would be no more cases of viral infection by Sars-Cov-2. "The victory won by our people is a historic event that has once again shown the world the greatness of our state", summarized the dictator addressing the national and international media.

The question arises: how much is it true in this statement? Despite not having information and official numbers available to punctually contradict Kim Jong-un's words, it is rather difficult to believe that a state can completely isolate itself and stop the spread of the virus altogether, especially in a global context such as the current one in which c 'there is a large number of viral variants in circulation and the number of cases (serious or not) is quite high in many parts of the world.

Lottery numbers, rather than health bulletins It is not the first time that the authorities of North Korea boast of their ability to defend the country from the virus, using the pandemic as a tool for political propaganda and to spread triumphal messages to the people. But let's go in order.

The dictator Kim Jong-un has, for over two years, in fact denied the very existence of the Covid-19 pandemic, or at least that the virus had entered his country: thanks to the extraordinary measures adopted by the government and closing national borders, he said several times, it would be possible to completely prevent the virus from crossing national borders. The first official case recorded in North Korea, in fact, dates back to just May 12 this year. Since then the virus has spread like wildfire causing up to 4.8 million infections, even if not all scientifically ascertained despite the symptoms consistent with the infection.

Arousing the most suspicion of all. however the number of deaths: just 74 in all. In itself, a mortality rate of just 0.002% seems unlikely (against a world average of around 0.1%), but it is even more so if you think about the country's health system. The hospitals are not particularly equipped, the places in intensive care are very limited, the treatments for the treatment of the virus are not particularly specialized and no one has been vaccinated. In short, certainly not the ideal conditions to face a pandemic that has already caused over 6 million deaths in the world.

To make a direct comparison, just think that neighboring South Korea - with an efficient health system and a high vaccination rate - still shows 0.12% mortality, 60 times higher. In short, the North Korean numbers during the pandemic are somewhat ambiguous and contradictory, reflecting a tracking and communication system that has nothing to do with what (albeit perfectible and with a thousand defects) we are used to.

Al more it could be a truce One of the things we have certainly learned from the pandemic is that national borders cannot be barriers to the virus: in some cases they can partially limit its circulation, but they are not sufficient to protect a state nor can they act as a shield in an absolute sense.

In fact, after the first cases of Covid-19 in China at the end of 2019 (or perhaps even a little earlier), the virus began to circulate rapidly between all continents and in the space of a few months, almost all states have found themselves in the midst of a health crisis. Already at the time to believe that North Korea was completely spared from diffusion is almost laughable, but today it is even more so since many different variants are circulating. With over a million cases per day ascertained worldwide, it is really difficult for any healthcare system to accurately track the situation, and to think that a country can have definitively defeated the virus is on the verge of science fiction. Perhaps indeed in the country there could be a moment of relative respite of the infection, but in the coming months the virus could certainly start to circulate again, especially considering that some variants are endemic in many parts of the world.

A pandemic balloon attack It is certainly not the first time that the North Korean leader has indulged in strong statements, with the aim of causing a sensation and evoking a patriotic sentiment in his own people, with themes ranging from frequent threats to resort to weapons nuclear to the impositions on the look and clothing of the men and women of the country, without neglecting the geopolitical aspects. A few months ago, the same leader disappeared for 17 days and never gave any explanation for what happened, leaving the whole world in uncertainty. It was thought it could be a serious health problem, the escape from a catastrophic situation due to Covid-19 or much else: no one has ever leaked certain information, and still does not know the truth. According to what has been declared in recent days ("he had a fever") he may have been ill with Covid-19.

The regime's official explanation for the spread of the virus within national borders is also somewhat bizarre of North Korea. In fact, referring to the words of the sister of the dictator Kim Yong-un, the contagion of the population would be due to inflatable balloons used by activists during a demonstration. These would have been launched from South Korea to the north, infecting the first people inside the country, who would have been responsible for the subsequent spread of the virus. It goes without saying that the theory is considered unfounded by doctors and epidemiologists because, even if a contagion of this kind is not in itself impossible in an absolute sense, it is much more likely that the contagion has spread in exactly the same way it involved all the rest of the world.

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