North Korea claimed that it had a vaccine that could cure and prevent deadly diseases including MERS, AIDS, SARS, and Ebola.
According to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the country’s scientists independently developed a vaccine from ginseng extract mixed with “rare earth resources.” The ginseng was cultivated with fertilizer in the Kaesong City. The vaccine was called Kumdang-2 injection.
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North Korea says Kumdang-2 injection can revive the immune system
“Malicious virus infections like SARS, Ebola and MERS are diseases that are related to immune systems, so they can be easily treated by Kumdang-2 injection drug, which is a strong immune reviver,” said KCNA.
The state news agency reported that Kumdang-2 injection blocks the incoming virus and keeps the immune system active and helps the body to remain strong. The propaganda of North Korea also emphasized that strengthening the immune system can destroy the virus present in the body.
A related report from Minjok Tongshin, a pro-North Korea website, indicated that the scientists first developed the vaccine in 1996. The authoritarian, impoverished, and secretive country did not provide any proof of its claim that the Kumdang 2 injection could treat MERS, AIDS, SARS, and Ebola.
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that the most common causes of death in North Korea is tuberculosis and other respiratory infections.
North Korea boasted the same vaccine when a SARS epidemic happened in China and Hong Kong in 2003. The impoverished country also claimed that Kumdang 2 injection can cure the avian flu when it threatened the global population in 2006 and 2013. North Korea made its claim again about the efficacy of the Kumdang-2 injection as South Korea continues to fight the outbreak of MERS.
MERS is an acronym for Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. Saudi Arabia first reported the disease in 2012.
MERS outbreak in South Korea
The World Health Organization (WHO) reported that there are 166 patients infected with MERS and 24 people already died from the disease in South Korea as of June 19, 2015.
The WHO said the MERS outbreak in South Korea, which started last month, was large and complex. The epidemiology pattern of the outbreak was similar to the previous hospital-associated MERS-Cov outbreaks in the Middle East, which was fully controlled through public health measures such as infection prevention and control.
Dr. Keiji Fukuda, WHO Assistant Director-Geral for Health Security said, “We know that there has been much anxiety about whether the virus in the Republic of Korea has increased its ability to transmit itself between humans. “However, based on available sequencing studies of this virus, it does not appear to have changed to make itself more transmissible.”
According to the WHO, the MERS-Cov is currently clustered around health facilities in South Korea and no evidence that it was spreading in the community. Dr. Fukuda emphasized that a continued monitoring is critical.
The WHO recommended the following steps to stop further cases of MERD CoV in South Korea:
- Early and complete identification of all contacts;
- Quarantine or isolation and monitoring of all contacts and suspected cases;
- Full implementation of infection, prevention and control measures;
- Prevention of travel, especially internationally, of infected persons and contacts.
Most people confirmed to be infected with MERS-CoV had severe acute respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC added that some people also experienced gastrointestinal symptoms including diarrhea and nausea/vomiting. Most of the people with MERS suffered more complications such as pneumonia and kidney failure. Around 3-4 persons out of every 10 people confirmed with MERS died. Most of the people who died had underlying medical condition.