Kim Jong-un and his family have received an experimental coronavirus vaccine from China, according to reports.
The North Korean leader is said to have had the jab within the last three weeks.
China’s government supplied it, according to a US analyst who cited two Japanese intelligence sources.
Harry Kazianis, a North Korea expert at the Center for the National Interest think tank in Washington, said several senior regime officials had also been vaccinated.
He said it was unclear which firm had supplied its drug candidate – and if it was even safe.
Mr Kazianis said: “Kim Jong-un and multiple other high-ranking officials within the Kim family and leadership network have been vaccinated for coronavirus within the last two to three weeks thanks to a vaccine candidate supplied by the Chinese government.”
He said it seemed the hermit kingdom “is now indebted to Beijing even more”, especially if China provides vaccines for the whole country.
At least three Chinese firms were developing a Covid-19 vaccine, he wrote on the website 19FortyFive.
These included Sinophram Group, Sinovac Biotech Ltd and CanSinoBio.
But none of them are known to have launched Phase 3 clinical trials of their experimental Covid drugs.
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However, Sinophram has claimed nearly 1million people in China have used its vaccine candidate.
It follows claims suspected North Korean hackers tried to target AstraZeneca in recent weeks.
The British drugs firm is currently developing a Covid vaccine with the University of Oxford.
North Korea has not confirmed any Covid infections, which has been questioned by other countries.
The pariah state recently tightened its borders even further, cutting off nearly all trade with China, according to CNN.
Cities including the capital Pyongyang have recently been locked down in a bid to guard the country against the virus.
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