After an online media report accused the Blue House of importing an anthrax cure in order to inoculate President Moon Jae-in and other key government officials while leaving the general public vulnerable to a potential biological attack from North Korea, a government spokesman hit back Monday.
Park Soo-hyun issued a press release that stated the drugs were ordered, as reported by the conservative Newstown website, but noted the order was made by the previous government to serve as emergency in case of such an attack, or an accidental exposure. In 2015, a U.S. lab accidentally sent live spores, rather than dead samples, to Osan Air Base to be used in training exercise.
Although no exposure or infection occurred at the time, the South Korean military didn’t want to be caught off-guard if another mistake occurred during a future training exercise. The order was made in July through a Canadian company and is reflected in the annual government budget, Park added.
The spokesman said the purchase was completed in November upon delivery of 350 doses, and said they were taken to a military facility for storage. He called Newstown’s interpretation—he said it was tied to an opposition politician—of the information “extremely malicious” and vowed the government would take legal action.
Park said the Korea Ceners for Disease Control and Prevention also purchased 1,000 doses of anthrax vaccines for use on counter-terrorism agents or civilians who are exposed to the disease. He noted antibiotics are generally used to treat patients, but the purchased anthrax vaccines are for emergency use after exposure in certain situations, such as a bioterrorist attack.