BRUSSELS (AP) – Since the coronavirus began spreading across Europe a year ago, NATO headquarters in Brussels has been closed to other media outlets, but the military alliance now aims to move ahead of Belgium’s vaccine program to secure its staff. for a “virus-free” summit in June.
US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken and his NATO counterparts are meeting in person at the headquarters of the 30-nation bloc on Tuesday to prepare for a summit of national leaders, including President Biden. This is the first face-to-face meeting of ministers in NATO since 2019.
The European Union, by contrast, has canceled an individual summit in Brussels as the number of cases of the virus rises, and will now meet this week through a video surveillance. Belgian health officials say the country is facing a “third wave” of infections if restrictions are not strictly enforced.
On Thursday, around 20 Polish medical personnel will begin vaccinating around 4,000 people working against COVID-19 at NATO headquarters across the city.
They plan to implement about 3,500 AstraZeneca vaccines.
Ahead of a meeting of his foreign ministers, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg praised Poland as a “highly regarded ally” that helps “support NATO, manage the effects of the epidemic”.
“This is a joint struggle, we are stronger together. “Of course, the vaccines will help support our work here at NATO headquarters,” Stoltenberg said.
Asked for details, NATO said the offer was available to all staff members, including those working in 30 national delegations. It does not answer the question of why a vaccination campaign is needed, why people working in NATO should be given priority for filming.
Belgium currently vaccinates people over the age of 65 who have medical conditions that could be life-threatening if they become infected with the virus. The disease has killed more than 22,000 people in the country.
About 7% of the population has been vaccinated, և the government’s program is not moving fast enough to ensure that everyone in NATO is vaccinated when leaders from Europe and North America gather in about three months. A Belgian NATO official declined to comment.
NATO said that “we continue to work closely with the Belgian authorities” to help vaccinate contractors, staff of partner countries and families of NATO personnel through the Belgian Vaccination Center.
In Warsaw, the representative of the Polish government in charge of the National Immunization Program, Michal Dvorczyk, said that Poland, as an ally, was ready “not only to take but also to give” that vaccines would help ensure health and safety in NATO. summit
Dvorsic argued that the program would not hurt the government’s efforts to fight the coronavirus, despite some concerns in Poland that vaccine distribution was slow. He said the 3,500 doses make up less than 1% of the burden the country has to receive this week so that the medical staff involved will not be transported from hospitals treating COVID-19 patients.
Many in Poland did not attend the AstraZeneca appointment last week due to fears about the possibility of blood clots, fears that the government would reject the vaccine կարծես seem to be in short supply.
According to the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Poland received about 1.24 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, delivered more than 640,000 doses, leaving about 600,000 doses in storage.
As the coronavirus began to spread, the NATO-based headquarters complex was closed to journalists, but some of them were allowed to attend Tuesday’s meeting, provided they could show the result of the latest negative test for the virus.
After passing through a temperature scanner in the center of Brussels, journalists are free to enter the European Parliament building with their media credentials.
Donald Trump was the first US president to meet with his NATO counterparts at the new headquarters in May 2017. The relocation from the old headquarters was not complete, the leaders had the building mostly for themselves. Biden’s inauguration program plans to have more staff to ensure the summit environment is as safe as it can be in terms of coronavirus.
Vanessa Geran և Monica Skislowska, based in Warsaw, Poland, contributed to this report.
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