Jan. 4 (UPI) — North Korea was amongst a bunch of growing international locations that requested shipments of COVID-19 vaccines, regardless of declaring itself freed from the virus, the Wall Road Journal reported Monday.

Sources “conversant in the matter” instructed the newspaper North Korea filed an utility for vaccines with Gavi, the public-private international well being partnership that works to enhance immunization in low-income nations, in keeping with the report.

Gavi didn’t present direct affirmation of the assertion, however mentioned an replace will probably be made out there early within the 12 months. The vaccine alliance has mentioned 86 of 92 growing nations have requested vaccines. North Korea additionally has requested info on acquiring vaccines from European international locations, the report mentioned.

North Korea raised its alert stage for the novel coronavirus to the best of three levels in December, regardless of official claims of “zero” circumstances. However the nation additionally held a New 12 months’s celebration in Pyongyang that included fireworks on New 12 months’s Eve. North Koreans had been seen in state tv footage sporting masks however not training social distancing.

Kim Jong Un didn’t make a televised New 12 months’s speech this 12 months, however issued a New 12 months’s Day card to residents, vowing to “work laborious to carry earlier the brand new period during which beliefs and needs of our individuals will come true.”

Kim additionally thanked the nation for supporting the Korean Staff’ Celebration throughout “troublesome occasions,” in keeping with Pyongyang’s Korean Central Information Company.

In 2019, Kim pledged to ship a “new strategic weapon” in a speech revealed on New 12 months’s Eve. In October the regime showcased new missiles and traditional weapons. Seoul has mentioned Pyongyang is pushing ahead with state targets that should be met earlier than North Korea’s Eighth Celebration Congress.

North Korea has but to substantiate the date of the Celebration Congress, or whether or not it has already taken place. The USA might be monitoring the nation forward of the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Joe Biden.

No Callsign, a South Korea-based aviation tracker and South Korean navy authorities mentioned Monday a U.S. spy airplane, the RC-135W or Rivet Joint, flew over the Seoul metropolitan space, native newspaper Munhwa Ilbo reported.

The reconnaissance plane additionally flew over the peninsula final week, in keeping with trackers.