SEOUL, Dec 1 - China has provided North Koreanleader Kim Jong Un and his family with an experimentalcoronavirus vaccine, a U.S. analyst said on Tuesday, citing twounidentified Japanese intelligence sources. Harry Kazianis, a North Korea expert at the Center for theNational Interest think tank in Washington, said the Kims andseveral senior North Korean officials had been vaccinated. It was unclear which company had supplied its drug candidateto the Kims and whether it had proven to be safe, he added. "Kim Jong Un and multiple other high-ranking officialswithin the Kim family and leadership network have beenvaccinated for coronavirus within the last two to three weeksthanks to a vaccine candidate supplied by the Chinesegovernment," Kazianis wrote in an article for online outlet19FortyFive. Citing U.S. medical scientist Peter J. Hotez, he said atleast three Chinese companies were developing a coronavirusvaccine, including Sinovac Biotech Ltd, CanSinoBioand Sinophram Group. Sinophram says its candidate has been used by nearly onemillion people in China, although none of the firms was known tohave publicly launched Phase 3 clinical trials of theirexperimental COVID-19 drugs. North Korea has not confirmed any coronavirus infections,but South Korea's National Intelligence Service (NIS) has saidan outbreak there cannot be ruled out as the country had tradeand people-to-people exchanges with China - the source of thepandemic - before shutting the border in late January. Microsoft said last month that two North Korean hackinggroups had tried to break into the network of vaccine developersin multiple countries, without specifying the companiestargeted. Sources told Reuters they included British drugmakerAstraZeneca. The NIS said last week it had foiled North Korea's attemptsto hack into South Korean COVID-19 vaccine makers. REUTERS
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