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Moderator:  Good day from the U.S. Department of State’s Asia Pacific Media Hub in Manila.  I’m the Hub Director, Zia Syed, and I want to thank you all for joining this briefing.  Today, we are pleased to be joined from Washington, DC, Dr. Mitchell Wolfe, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Chief Medical Officer; and from Hanoi, Vietnam, Dr. John MacArthur, CDC Southeast Asia Regional Director.

We will begin today’s call with opening remarks from Dr. Wolfe and then from Dr. MacArthur.  We will try to get to as many questions as we can during the time that we have, which is approximately 35 minutes.

Finally, as a reminder, today’s call is on the record, and with that, I will turn it over to Dr. Wolfe.

Dr. Wolfe:  Thank you and good morning, everyone.  It’s a pleasure to speak with all of you about the launch of the U.S. CDC Southeast Asia Regional Office.  Having previously spent ten years living and working for the CDC in Vietnam and Thailand, I am very proud of the strong connection that CDC has with this region.

The CDC has worked globally for more than 70 years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated something that we have known for a long time — that a disease threat anywhere is a disease threat everywhere, and we must all work together to stop diseases at their source, and to prevent them from spreading.

Our collaborations around the globe and in this region with many partners have substantially bolstered global health security.  Recent outbreaks, including influenza, MERS, Zika, and Ebola, have provided us opportunities to collaborate, to learn, and increase our collective fight against disease threats.

It’s critical that we strengthen global health security even further to prepare for the next global health crisis.

As we continue these global health security efforts during and after the COVID pandemic, CDC is rolling out a regional strategy that recognizes that diseases know no borders and that cross-country cooperation is critical.

At CDC, our long-term vision includes the establishment of a robust, interconnected network of about 8 to 12 regional offices around the globe.  As you may know, our other regional offices currently include the CDC South America Regional Office based in Brasilia, Brazil; the CDC Middle East/North Africa Regional Office based in Muscat, Oman; and the CDC Eastern Europe/Central Asia Regional Office based in Tbilisi, Georgia.

This regional approach is a realization of the CDC’s goal to operate with a sustainable and long-term overseas structure.  The regional office facilitates geographic expansion of our technical assistance and programs; it supports the impact of our activities and strengthens the agency’s ability to respond rapidly to disease outbreaks.

The Southeast Asia Regional Office is based in Vietnam, but its activities will engage all countries in the region to strengthen global health security across the entire region.

Regional directors, like Dr. MacArthur, are our senior-most CDC representatives in each region, and are dedicated to promoting cross-country solutions to cross-country global health security issues.

The regional office will build on relationships with regional partners, support countries in the region that previously had a limited CDC presence, and enhance cross-country collaborations.  The regional office will work to strengthen core health security capacities in areas such as surveillance, data use, laboratory science, workforce development, and emergency preparedness.

So, this launch builds on high-level cooperation amongst our governments throughout the present global health crisis, and it also builds on the unity that Southeast Asia has demonstrated during this pandemic and through organizations such as ASEAN.

I want to emphasize that we are profoundly grateful for the support that Southeast Asian countries have given to Americans during this crisis in areas like repatriation flights and keeping critical supply lines open for essential medical equipment.

It bears repeating, I think, that the COVID-19 pandemic has driven home the concept that global health security transcends borders.  CDC’s regional strategy embodies our commitment to strengthening global health security around the world through these cross-country collaborations.  Through our Southeast Asia Regional Office, we look forward to expanding collaborations with partners in Southeast Asia as part of this vision for stronger global health security worldwide.  Thank you.

Dr. MacArthur:  Thank you, Dr. Wolfe.  This is Dr. MacArthur.

I am very pleased and honored to be part of this latest chapter in the ongoing history of our work throughout this critical region.

This past Wednesday, we had the honor of having U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, the Vietnam Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, the Vietnam Health Minister Nguyễn Thanh Long, and other dignitaries join in the official launch of the Southeast Asia Regional Office of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC.

While this regional office is new, our partnership-based approach to proactively and collectively partnering to battle infectious diseases in Southeast Asia certainly is not.  The CDC’s relationship to this region goes back more than 70 years to 1950, when CDC technical staff developed programs to address a major public health challenge at the time: malaria.

Over the past 70 years, Southeast Asia has undergone tremendous changes leading to dynamic economic growth.  This has been driven by a change from an agrarian-based economy to one based in industry.  This led to greater movement of people around the region and an urbanization process placing humans closer together.  Protein sources shifted from traditional backyard farms to live-bird markets often in high population centers, and this provided fertile conditions for animal diseases to spill over and infect humans, thus causing new human diseases.

In this age of global connectivity, of course all the world is important to infectious disease control.  However, it’s worth noting that these changes in Southeast Asia are of critical importance with respect to the emergence of new pathogens.  Over the past two decades, Southeast Asia and neighboring areas have seen the emergence of Nipah virus, SARS, avian influenza, and COVID-19.  Even the Zika virus that significantly impacted the health of South Americans was of the Asian lineage.  Our regional office will work to coordinate CDC’s approach to help address risks associated with the development of these new pathogens of pandemic potential, work to mitigate them at the source, and work collaboratively to prepare and address any future public health threats.

With the ten member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, as well as Papua New Guinea, the coverage of this regional office comprises well over 600 million people.  Through the alignment with the goals of regional bodies such WHO, FAO, ASEAN Secretariat, and individual ministries and our CDC bilateral operations, this regional office is dedicated to strengthening the implementation of CDC’s mission to advance regional health security and address health threats wherever they occur.  We will focus on the growth of key public health fundamentals, including epidemiology, surveillance, data use, laboratory science, workforce development, and emergency preparedness.  This office will strengthen important relationships with ministries of health, ministries of agriculture, and other partners to focus efforts on our collective health priorities.

It has been said many times, especially in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it bears repeating that diseases know no borders, and health threats are only effectively addressed through collaboration and shared commitment to health.  The Southeast Asia Regional Office ensures that our technical assistance and programs build cross-border public health capacity, and enhances our ability to rapidly respond to new disease threats alongside our partners in this region.

Specifically, and at the tactical level, this regional office is seeking to harmonize and strengthen disease surveillance efforts through programs like the Field Epidemiology Training Program, or FETP; we want to bolster emergency response through the Public Health Emergency Management Fellowship programs and strengthening Emergency Operations Centers across the region; we want to build sustainable regional laboratory networks through lab leadership training and new diagnostic capacity building; and we want to address One Health, border health, and migrant population health across Southeast Asia.

I want to thank Vice President Harris and Deputy Prime Minister Pham Binh Minh again for taking the time out of their enormously busy schedules to assist us in the launching of the CDC Regional Office based here in Hanoi, Vietnam, and to bring attention to our collective work in the region and how CDC cooperates with our partners to improve the region’s health.  Indeed, the role of coordinated, mutually beneficial, and strategic consideration of global public health threats has never been more apparent or more urgent than today.

Thank you all for your interest, and I will turn it over to you for any questions that you may have for Dr. Wolfe and myself.

Moderator:  Thank you very much.  We will now begin the question and answer portion of today’s call.

Our first question will go to Qingting Zheng from 21st Century Business Herald in Beijing, China.  Qingting, if you can please go ahead.

Question:  Okay, thank you.  So could you elaborate on the reason for choosing Vietnam as CDC’s Southeast Asia Regional Office?  And what is your estimate of the current vaccine shortage in Vietnam or in ASEAN?  And does the U.S. welcome other countries to donate vaccines to Vietnam to reduce the shortage, including China?  Thank you.

Dr. MacArthur:  Thank you for that question.  Vietnam was selected as a regional platform because of the successful relationships and the infrastructure developed through programs that we’ve had for many years here in the country, including PEPFAR, or the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, and our global health security work.  We recognize that Vietnam is an active participant in regional bodies such as ASEAN.  They have been very active in the Global Health Security Agenda as well.  The Vietnam Ministry of Health is supportive of this regional focus that CDC has and is very interested in working with us.  They welcomed the office and have been very, very collaborative, I think as witnessed by the high-level delegation at Wednesday’s launch.

Obviously, there are a number of other countries in the region that are very strong and that could serve as a possible host, and we’re grateful for the collaborations that we have with those countries.  We actually intend for this office really to serve as the nidus for a platform across the region, because we have a number of bilateral country offices throughout Southeast Asia, and we’ll kind of work with our subject matter experts in those country offices and leverage the collaboration that we have with our partner countries in those bilateral areas, really to try to build a stronger health security system within Southeast Asia.

With regards to Vietnam, Vietnam did a fantastic job early on in containing COVID-19.  I think with the entrance of the Delta variant, it’s a little bit more challenging.  They are in the process now of introducing vaccines to their population and rolling that out.  Where Vietnam or other countries source their vaccines is an individual country choice, so we don’t try to influence that.  We only promote the use of safe and efficacious vaccines.

I would like to take the opportunity right now just to highlight that the United States thus far has donated over 23 million vaccines for emergency health and humanitarian assistance across ASEAN, including 6 million doses here to Vietnam.  We’ve also pledged $500,000 to the ASEAN COVID-19 Response Fund, which will support the purchase of additional vaccines.  And finally, while maybe not quite specific to Vietnam or even Southeast Asia, the United States has pledged 500 million additional Pfizer vaccines to the Gavi for distribution through COVAX, which is the single largest vaccine donation in history and essentially half of what the G7 commitment has been thus far.

Moderator:  Thank you very much.  Next, we will go to Huong Doan from Soha News in Hanoi, Vietnam.

Question:  Yes.  I would like to ask a question:  Why did you choose Hanoi to set up this Regional CDC Office?  Does it have – against a COVID-19 [inaudible]?  Thank you.

Dr. MacArthur:  Thank you for that question.  I want to highlight, when I talked about CDC’s 70-plus-year relationship in Southeast Asia, that actually began with a trip from malaria experts from CDC to Vietnam to work in the northern part of the country on malaria control.  So we value our longstanding relationship with the people of Vietnam and we also value the 23-year history of our bilateral office here in Vietnam.  And as I mentioned with the previous question, we also have a strong history of working collaboratively with the Government of Vietnam and the people of Vietnam on such important diseases as HIV, influenza, bird flu back when that was circulating, SARS, and others.  And so we have this strong, strong relationship.

We also, again, recognize that Vietnam has played a leadership role in ASEAN.  They’ve also played a leadership role in the Global Health Security Agenda, having led one of the action packages for that agenda.  The government has been very welcoming and supportive in working with us, and I mentioned that at our launch on Wednesday we had the deputy prime minister, we had the vice minister of foreign affairs, and we had the health minister all in attendance of that launch, and I think that shows the strong, strong political commitment we have.

We are also looking long-term, and so we see this not as a five-year or ten-year commitment, but we think that the strategic relationship on health security between Vietnam and the United States is something that we will work together in a long-term fashion and we see support from the people of Vietnam for that.

Thank you so much for your question.

Moderator:  Thank you.  Next if we could go to Gerg Cahiles from CNN Philippines in Manila.  Gerg, please go ahead.

Question:  Thank you very much.  Good morning, everybody.  Well, I just want to know the doctors’, well, initial assessment on the COVID response of ASEAN countries.  Well, if you could be more specific on the Philippines.  And at the same time, what do you think are better ways to combat this COVID-19 with the emergence of new variants?  Thank you.

Dr. MacArthur:  Thank you for that question.  One of the things I want to say in terms of this region, is this region is not new to the development of new, emerging infectious diseases.  And so in my opening remarks you may remember I commented that over the last 20 years, Southeast Asia has seen the emergence of Nipah virus, of SARS, of bird flu, of COVID, and I mentioned the Zika strain that affected South America is also of the Asian lineage.

I highlight this because I think for the last 15 or more years, the region collectively has been working to strengthen their core capacities to respond to public health threats.  And so this includes surveillance, emergency response, workforce development through training, disease detectives, strengthening laboratory systems – a number of key areas.  They’ve worked with WHO in the development of something called the Asia Pacific Strategy for Emerging Diseases, which is a coordinated approach bringing the two regional offices of WHO – the Western Pacific Regional Office in Manila and the South-East Asia Regional Office in Delhi – and bringing them together to bring the countries from across those two WHO regions together on developing strategies to combat emerging infectious diseases.

Now, why am I telling you this?  I’m telling you this because when COVID struck, this area actually had a lot of talent to respond.  And I think you’ll see in the early days – in fact, the first case of COVID-19 outside of Wuhan, China, or outside of China, was in Thailand, and they had already put things in place to detect that case even before it arrived in the airport because they had been investing a lot in preparedness.

So, I would say in the early days, Southeast Asia did remarkably well for the most part.  There were a few countries that had challenges, but remarkably well in combating the emergence of this virus.

I think what we’re seeing now, not only in Southeast Asia but around the world, is with the emergence of this new strain, the Delta strain, some of the tools that we had been using previously are no longer as effective.  So right now, when I look at the data across the region, I’m going to say a few things.  One is that the good news is that you look at cases per population, it’s actually significantly lower than the global number.  So, as bad as things may seem at times in Southeast Asia, relative to the global pandemic numbers, they’re lower.  If you look at the number of people who are dying from this disease, who have the disease, that’s basically somewhat similar to what we’re seeing in the global numbers.  About half the countries in the region right now are doing better, so they’re moving in the right direction in terms of pushing the number of cases down and trying to control the disease.  I think about half the countries in the region, including the Philippines, are having a more difficult time right now.

I think the good news is through COVAX and other donations of vaccines, as we’re starting to see more and more countries vaccinate their people – and I think that’s an important tool along with some of the community mitigation tools that have been used really to bring this under control.

Moderator:  Excellent, thank you very much.  Next if we could go to Van Pham from Tuoi Tre newspaper in Vietnam.  Van, go ahead.

Question:  Hello.  My question is how important it is to know the origins of the SARS-CoV viruses in fighting future pandemic spread, and how the U.S. will continue to investigate to know about the origins of the COVID-19.  Thank you.

Dr. Wolfe:  Yes, this is Mitch Wolfe.  I can take this question.

So, as you know, WHO is looking into origins with their own investigation and we are participating in that, and we believe in a multilateral approach to investigate.  In addition, the President has received a report that’s been well publicized on the origins, and there will be a summary produced.  Until that time, I’m not able to provide any details of that assessment.

Moderator:  Thank you very much.  I’d like to go to a couple of the questions that we received in advance.  We received a question from Nirmal Ghosh from the Straits Times in Washington.  And the first part of the question is similar to what you heard before, but then we had some follow-up.  So, the first part is, “What will be the strength and role of the CDC in Hanoi?  Will the focus be on research and data and early detection of diseases, and what diseases are of concern?”  But then he also asked, “Will the CDC in the region be channeling advice back to the Administration regarding things like vaccine deployments and where it should go?”  If one of you can field that.

Dr. MacArthur:  Sure, I can take that.  I think one of the things I want to highlight throughout the Southeast Asia region is we’re talking about our regional office, but we’re also talking about our regional platform.  So, one of the strengths of the regional office is to help to coordinate that platform.  And what do I mean by that platform?  Is that before standing up this regional office, we already had bilateral offices in Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Indonesia, and there’s another country that we’re still negotiating and we hope to open that bilateral office in the near future.

So, one of the strengths that the regional office will have is to bring a regional approach to some of that bilateral work so that we can maximize efficiencies across the platform.  So, I’ll give you an example.  If country A is doing a capacity-building training that countries B, C, and D would benefit from, well, then we can bring those countries together and share those resources and also help to establish networking across the ASEAN member-states and Papua New Guinea.

So, really, the core of what we continue to do is the work that’s occurring in our bilateral office.  Regional offices will serve to provide synergy among those country offices as well as synergy with our headquarters, where we have a number of our subject matter experts who we can call upon when needed to come out into this area.

As you’ve heard, my team in the regional office is really part of CDC’s senior leadership and will be engaged in the development of strategies for the region and policies for the region that take into account a number of factors.  We will have a sort of a bird’s-eye view of what’s happening here, and through communications with our partners across the region, we’ll be able to sort of advocate for resources to leadership in Atlanta and in Washington.

But our main focus, again, is really to help strengthen the health security partnerships across this region, both at the bilateral level and with regional partners.  And those areas are fairly…sort of clear in terms of just core capacities for health security, and I’ll go through those again for all of you.

Number one is surveillance.  And so, in order to detect something happening, we need to have robust surveillance systems that can detect a new pathogen or an old pathogen early so that our public health authorities and the ministries around the region can respond quickly and effectively and really to sort of contain that outbreak before it grows.  In order to do that, you need to build an effective workforce, and through our Field Epidemiology Training Program, we will work with the programs across the region to strengthen those disease detectives, if you will.  So, the FETP has been around for 40 years.  The first program outside of North America was established in Southeast Asia, and at this point in time, all 10 ASEAN member-states and Papua New Guinea have some type of an applied epidemiology training program based on the FETP model.  It’s important to continue to have the appropriate workforce who can respond to these diseases.

It will also ensure that the lab systems are as strong as they possibly can be.  And then focus on the coordination of the response through public health emergency management trainings, strengthening the emergency operations centers, which really serve as the main coordinating unit for many of the ministries of health across the region.

As was mentioned in opening remarks, diseases know no borders and so we will focus on cross-border assistance and cross-border tracking of diseases and strengthening border health posts across the region, looking at specific health issues in mobile and migrant populations.  And then we’ve found that in this region, up to 70 percent of new pathogens, new diseases, actually originate in animals and they cross a species barrier from animals to humans.  And so, there’s sort of a movement called the “One Health” movement, which looks at not only human health, but animal health and environmental health and moves those together in order to have a safer environment.  And so we will be working with our ministries of health partners, our ministries of agriculture partners, our UN partners, and other partners around the region to really strengthen this One Health activity.

So, that’s an awful lot of words, and I apologize for going on, but I think it hopefully will give you an idea of the robust nature of what we are doing.

You asked about vaccines, vaccine deployment and whether we’re in a position to channel advice to the administration.  Ultimately, decisions on vaccine donations are made by the White House, but certainly in working with our embassies across the region and working with our headquarters in Atlanta and Dr. Wolfe’s office in Washington, DC, we certainly can channel what we’re hearing on the ground to those policymakers and they can take them into those more senior discussions on how we distribute the donations of vaccinations.

I will say it’s not just about getting the vaccine, it’s also about implementing it.  And the last thing I want to mention is that we are coordinating with our subject matter experts in Atlanta.  We have a COVID-19 Global Vaccine Task Force who have a variety of different types of experts, everywhere from an anthropologist to an epidemiologist to medical officers, who are working with countries across this region to help them come up with strong implementation plans to look at what they need to do, when that vaccine arrives at the airport, and how you go from the airport into the arms of the people who need them – and there’s quite a number of steps involved, and so we’re working with our partner countries and other U.S. Government agencies and other interested parties in trying to move that vaccine from the airport into the arms of people.

Moderator:  Thank you.  Another question we received – it seems like you actually may have just answered it – from Nadine Azura at Kumparan in Indonesia.  She was actually asking about vaccine deployment to Indonesia.  But perhaps, Dr. MacArthur, you can mention a little bit about the situation in Indonesia and U.S. cooperation there.

Dr. MacArthur:  Sure, thank you.  Thank you for that question.  Indonesia, of course, with just the nature of the country, provides logistical challenges for deployment of vaccines because of the number of islands and such.  We do have a CDC country office in Indonesia that we’ve had for many years.  Their primary focus is on health security.  And in fact, our country director there now, Dr. Bill Hawley, this is his second tour and he speaks the local language and knows the culture quite well and knows people in the ministry and I think is really trying to effectively move forward our program there.

As people on this call know that Indonesia has had a difficult time early on of the number of cases — I think if you look at the total number of cases in Indonesia, there are well over 4 million at this point in time, which is the highest number in Southeast Asia.  But you also have to recognize that they have the largest population in Southeast Asia.  So if you, again, look at cases per population, then they tend to fall somewhere in the middle as opposed to being the highest.

I think the good news in Indonesia now is we’re seeing progress, especially in Jakarta and some of the urban areas where we’re seeing the number of cases begin to drop.  I don’t think we can take our foot off the accelerator pedal.  I think there’s still a long way to go and a lot of work, but we do see – we do see progress, which is fantastic news.  They are rolling out the vaccine.  I think at this point in time they’ve got about 12 percent of the population that are eligible to receive vaccines, are fully vaccinated; about 22 percent of the population who are eligible to receive the vaccine have had at least one dose.  So they still have, again, some work to do to hit their targets of approximately 70 percent, but they’re working on that.

Moderator:  Thank you very much.  Let me ask you one more question that we received in advance.  It was from Ly Pham at Zing News in Vietnam.  And the question was, “In the remarks at the opening ceremony of CDC’s Southeast Asia Office on August 25th, Vice President Kamala Harris mentioned a training program about training ‘disease detectives.’  Is it possible to give us more information about this program and how it may be conducted in Southeast Asia or elsewhere?”

Dr. MacArthur:  Thanks for that question.  It’s one of my favorite topics because this is really an extremely important program for developing the public health workforce, those epidemiologists who actually, again, respond to these disease outbreaks.  So, just a little background on that.

Early on within the CDC, some of our forefathers there developed something called the Epidemic Intelligence Service, which is a two-year fellowship of applied epidemiologists.  And this took doctors and other public health practitioners and put them into a two-year fellowship where they sort of learned by doing.  So, you’ve got didactic training, you’ve got coursework in the classroom.  But they felt that you actually needed to go out in the field with appropriate supervision and respond to outbreaks so you can learn how to respond to outbreaks.

The CDC took that model and began to develop something that’s called the Field Epidemiology Training Program, and in 1980, Thailand, with the assistance of CDC, launched the first Field Epidemiology Training Program, or FETP, outside of North America.  So that was over 40 years ago.  And as I mentioned I think earlier in my remarks, at this point in time, that program has grown throughout the region to the point where every country in the region has some type of Field Epidemiology Training Program, including the ten ASEAN member-states and including Papua New Guinea.

There’s also different tiers within that.  So, you have sort of maybe the highest tier would be a two-year training fellowship, usually somebody with a doctorate degree; but then they have a middle tier, which is a shorter-based fellowship, sometimes six months or so depending on the country decisions; and then you have frontline workers who may undergo a two-week or a four-week training.  I can tell you that, for example in Thailand, those frontline workers are in the thousands and they’re at the district and the subdistrict level, working as disease detectives, working to look for the occurrence of unusual activity — whether it’s COVID cases or they were utilized during avian flu, they were utilized for Zika and other types of cases.

So this tiered approach really sort of amplifies the public health workforce in these countries.  We call them “disease detectives” because I think that that name sort of connotes what they do, is that they get a call saying something has happened in this district, something has happened in this village, whether it’s an unusual number of children with rash, whether it’s an unusual number of people dying of a respiratory disease.  They don’t always know what they’re going to face when they go and do that investigation, but they have the skills and the training to go in and to start going through a process to determine what is the potential cause for this outbreak.  And then they work with their mentors and they work with laboratories, they work with other experts in their ministry of health, to not only identify what’s going on, but then to come up with mitigation strategies.  So it’s not enough just to know what’s happening; then you have got to put something in place to stop the outbreak from happening.

We’re happy to say that there is the ASEAN+3 Field Epidemiology Training Network here in the region, and this is run through ASEAN, but it’s a way that all of these ASEAN programs can come together and be networked and learn from one another.  And with the launch of my Regional Office, one of our key partners for workforce development, one of our key partners with field epidemiology training, will be this ASEAN+3 FETN, or Field Epidemiology Training Network.  Because we want to build their capacity and want to use that network that they have throughout the Southeast Asia states.

And the last thing I’ll say – and I apologize again for going long, but again, it’s an exciting topic for me – is that one of my senior technical staff that I’ll be hiring into my office will actually be a technical advisor for this very program, and so he’ll, again, work with the ASEAN+3 FETN, he’ll work with the individual countries’ programs to further strengthen and ensure that there’s some sustainability in those programs.

Moderator:  Thank you very much.  That is just about all the time we have for today.  Dr. Wolfe, would you like to make any closing remarks?

Dr. Wolfe:  Thank you.  Yes, just one thing.  I said that the CDC Southeast Asia Regional Office really builds upon the collaboration between our governments and the unity that Southeast Asia has demonstrated both during the pandemic, but also through organizations such as ASEAN.  And we’re really grateful for those strong collaborations in the region, and we intend for the Southeast Asia regional platform to be distributed across the region and will leverage the collaboration and the expertise of all the other countries in the region to make this a true regional platform.

So we’re very proud and happy that this is based in Hanoi and we also intend to leverage the expertise of all of the countries in the region.  Thanks.

Moderator:  Thank you very much.  That concludes today’s call.  I want to thank CDC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mitchell Wolfe and CDC Southeast Asia Regional Director Dr. John MacArthur, and I would also like to thank all of you for participating in the briefing.  Please stay on the line for information regarding access to an audio recording of the call.  Also, please be aware that a transcript of the call will be posted to our social media platforms and sent out to all of you within a day.  If you have any questions about today’s call, you may contact the Asia Pacific Media Hub at  Thank you.

U.S. Department of State

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