Foreign Secretary visits South Korea and Vietnam pledging to work together in virus fight

  • In Vietnam, Foreign Secretary announces £6.3 million funding package to tackle COVID-19 in South East Asia.

  • He has also been in South Korea where he visited the DMZ on the border with North Korea and met Foreign Minister Kang in Seoul.

£6.3million of new funding to tackle the health and economic impacts of COVID-19 across South East Asia has been announced today by the UK Foreign Secretary, who is in the region visiting South Korea and Vietnam.

On his visit to Vietnam, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab announced the funding package for a mixture of programmes with the Asian Development Bank and ASEAN bodies.

As part of the visit, Dominic Raab also opened the UK-Vietnam Health Conference with the Vietnamese Ministry of Health. The conference is bringing together sector experts from development and research organisations to discuss vaccine development and ensure equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in Vietnam.

This comes as Oxford University’s COVID-19 trial to identify effective treatments for Covid-19 patients was confirmed today (Wednesday 30 September) in Vietnam as the first overseas expansion of crucial efforts to fight the disease.

Before his visit to Hanoi the Foreign Secretary was in South Korea on Tuesday (29 September) where he had meetings with Foreign Minister Kang and former UN General Secretary Ban-Ki Moon in Seoul. He also visited the DMZ on the border with North Korea. The visit is part of a wider tilt towards the Indo-Pacific region, to forge a closer partnership on climate change, trade and security.

Speaking from Vietnam, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said:

The UK is playing a leading role in the global Covid-19 response. The UK package of support announced today will help stop the spread of the virus.

Cooperation between UK and Vietnamese scientists will protect the British and Vietnamese people and help put humanity on the road to recovery.

Today’s new funding takes the total coronavirus support to the region to over £50m, including existing programmes which have been adapted to meet the needs of the Covid-19 outbreak.

This new funding will help strengthen health systems to prevent, detect and control the threat of COVID-19. It includes specialist training for health workers, establishing a regional alert system to communicate real-time COVID-19 risks between countries and support for economic recovery.

The money is focused on countries at high risk of future waves of infection. The ASEAN region is an important trade, science and security partner to the UK, and this support will be crucial in helping to avoid further disruption in the region and building stronger UK collaboration with ASEAN.

This takes the UK’s total coronavirus support to South East Asia to over £50 million, including existing programmes that have been adapted to tackle COVID-19. For example to provide vital medical supplies and health services in Myanmar, and support pandemic response activities in schools in Indonesia and Philippines.

Today has also seen the announcement of the first overseas expansion of the UK’s Covid-19 ‘RECOVERY’ trial in Vietnam. This will be led by Oxford University Clinical Research Unit and the Vietnamese Ministry of Health. This trial is undertaking world-leading research to identify effective treatments for Covid-19 patients and supporting efforts to strengthen global resources to prepare for future pandemics.

UK organisations are already undertaking research and innovation projects in Vietnam – the Vietnamese company VABIOTECH is currently trialling a Covid-19 vaccine, developed based on a technology transfer from the University of Bristol, with clinical trials on humans anticipated to commence in early 2021.

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