Suspected Havana Syndrome Cases in Vietnam Did Not Involve White House Staff

Suspected Havana Syndrome cases in Vietnam did not involve anyone working for the vice president or the White House staff, according to officials.

U.S. officials said two separate cases of unexplained health incidents have been reported by U.S. personnel in Vietnam within the past week. An investigation is ongoing, and officials did not say specifically who was affected, only that it did not involve White House staff, according to the Associated Press.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Tuesday that the latest reported case of the suspected syndrome had not yet been confirmed by officials but did not involve anyone traveling with Vice President Kamala Harris, the AP reported.

"There was an assessment done of the safety of the vice president, and there was a decision made that she could continue travel along with her staff," Psaki said.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below:

Havana Syndrome Vietnam
Vice President Kamala Harris landed in Vietnam Tuesday after an "anomalous health incident" in Hanoi delayed her flight from Singapore. Above, Harris looks on during a meeting with Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh (not pictured) in Hanoi on Wednesday. Evelyn Hockstein/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

U.S. officials are continuing to investigate the two possible cases of the syndrome that delayed Harris' trip from Singapore to Vietnam.

The investigation was in its early stages and officials deemed it safe for Harris to make her scheduled stop in Vietnam, after initially hitting pause for a few hours on Tuesday. Havana Syndrome is the name for a rash of mysterious health incidents first reported by American diplomats and other government employees in the Cuban capital beginning in 2016. Harris on her trip is reassuring Asian allies after the tumultuous evacuation of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

On Wednesday, Harris appeared before U.S. diplomatic staff in Hanoi to sign a lease to a new embassy there. She didn't weigh in directly on the Havana Syndrome situation but expressed gratitude to those working for the U.S. across the globe.

"Here's my message to embassy staff: thank you. The people who work in our embassies around the world are extraordinary public servants who represent the best of what the United States believes itself to be and aspires to be, which is a good neighbor for our partners and our allies around the globe," she said.

On Wednesday, Harris was highlighting the announcement that the U.S. will send 1 million additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine to Vietnam, bringing the total U.S. vaccine donation to that country to 6 million doses.

The U.S. will also provide $23 million to help Vietnam expand distribution and access to vaccines, combat the pandemic and prepare for future disease threats. The Defense Department is also delivering 77 freezers to store vaccines throughout the country.

Some of those affected by Havana Syndrome report hearing a loud piercing sound and feeling intense pressure in the face. Pain, nausea and dizziness sometimes follow.

Similar, unexplained health ailments have since been reported by Americans serving in other countries, including Germany, Austria, Russia and China. A variety of theories have been floated to explain the incidents, including targeted microwaves or sonic attack, perhaps as part of an espionage or hacking effort.

Particularly alarming are revelations of at least two possible incidents in the Washington area, including one case near the White House in November in which an official reported dizziness. Administration officials have speculated that Russia may be involved, a suggestion Moscow has denied.

Congress has raised alarms over such incidents, finding rare bipartisan support in the House and Senate for a continued government-wide investigation into the syndrome, response as well as support for American personnel receiving medical monitoring and treatment.

The Biden administration is facing new pressure to resolve the mystery as the number of reported cases of possible attack has sharply grown. But scientists and government officials aren't yet certain about who might have been behind any attacks, if the symptoms could have been caused inadvertently by surveillance equipment—or if the incidents were actually attacks.

Kamala Harris departs Singapore
Vice President Kamala Harris departs Tuesday from Singapore for Hanoi, Vietnam, where she was to sign a lease for a new embassy. Evelyn Hockstein/Pool/Pool Photo via AP