JW Marriott Hanoi
Hanoi, Vietnam

     THE VICE PRESIDENT:  Thank you, Chris.  It is an honor to be here to celebrate the launch of the Southeast Asia Regional Office of the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

     It is one of four such offices in the entire world and a testament — a true testament for our commitment to this important region. 

     So, thank you to all of those who made the opening of this office possible.  It is an honor to be here today with all of you, the leaders charged with keeping Southeast Asia healthy.  There has never been a more important time to do this important work and to join together in partnership. 

     The pandemic has taught us that our world is more interconnected and interdependent than ever before and that the threats we face are accelerating more rapidly.

     We have all felt this deeply, both as COVID-19 has taken millions of lives around the world and as our world has come together to develop and distribute vaccines that are saving millions of lives.

     This January, when President Joe Biden and I took office, we were determined to build an arsenal of safe and effective vaccines for the world. 

     And to date, of the 110 million doses we have shipped out worldwide, we have delivered more than 23 million of those to Southeast Asia. 

     Today, I am pleased to announce that one million more — one million more doses are on the way to Vietnam as we speak and meet at this very moment.  This brings the total number of doses we’ve donated to Vietnam to 6 million.  And these new doses will start arriving in the next 24 hours. 

     I should add that all of these deliveries are, in fact, donations — free of charge, with no strings attached — because for us, this is about saving lives.  Period.

     We have also pledged $500,000 to ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund to support the purchase of more vaccines.

     The United States remains a strong supporter of ASEAN centrality, including in a regional health security location.  And we will look to deepen our public health cooperation with ASEAN going forward.

     In addition, we have provided more than $150 million in emergency assistance to the countries of this region to help get those shots in arms and to help COVID patients recover. 

     With the launch of this office today, we intend to build on these efforts and help to grow the public health infrastructure across Southeast Asia.

     Specifically, we want to work with you to improve readiness and response in the event — in the inevitable event of a future pandemic or public health crisis.

     To that end, we are working to train disease detectives — “disease detectives,” we call them; health professionals — through the field of epidemiology, and that training program which has actually been in place in Asia since 1980.

     We are also investing in research and supporting the creation of emergency management systems.

     And we are working with all of you to develop the next generation of healthcare professionals, because we know the COVID-19 pandemic will not be the last threat of its kind that we face, and we must be — if we are honest — better prepared for the next one.

     On that note, at a time when we should be celebrating nurses and doctors, we are especially alarmed by the situation in Myanmar where the military continues to attack healthcare professionals. 

     President Joe Biden and I are deeply concerned by the military coup and the human rights abuses that have followed.  We condemn the violence and stand with the people of Myanmar.  This must end.

     And today, we reiterate our call for an end to the violence, the release of those unjustly detained, and a swift restoration of the path to democracy.

     In closing, in this new era indeed, our world is interconnected and interdependent.  Partnership is therefore essential.  We must all be willing to take on challenges together — the challenges, let’s take them on together to create opportunities together.

     That is why the launch of this CDC office and our work together is so very important.

     Thank you all.  And we look forward to partnering with you for the years to come.  Thank you.  (Applause.)  

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