health

Tony Blair calls for new pass to allow vaccinated people more freedoms


People who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 should be able to travel abroad using a new digital pass and go to “vaccine-only” venues such as restaurants or sports stadiums, Tony Blair says today.

Releasing a report entitled “Less Risk, More Freedom”, by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, the former prime minister says the time has come “to distinguish for the purposes of freedom from restriction between the vaccinated and unvaccinated”.

The report argues that to date, measures intended to reduce the spread of disease have treated populations as largely homogenous groups. As a result, restrictions – such as national lockdowns, regional-tier systems and entire schools closed followingoutbreaks – have been blunt instruments.

The report argues that vaccinations have changed this, and that the relative risks posed by those who have been fully vaccinated, compared with those who have not, should be recognised.

Under the plan a new pass system would operate both domestically and, ultimately, internationally. No venue would be forced to become “vaccine-only”, but those that opted to do so would be subject to fewer restrictions.

The report says the effectiveness of vaccines in reducing transmission is now proven beyond doubt and should be reflected in the freedoms people can enjoy. “Ultimately, the fully vaccinated are much less likely to infect others – approximately up to 50% less likely,” it says. “Furthermore, they are less likely to die, be hospitalised or develop Covid-19 symptoms compared to pre-vaccine.

“Simply put, vaccine status matters. It is therefore critical that individuals are able to prove their vaccine status.”

It advocates a “globally interoperable system of health passes”, which would enable citizens to prove their status in a secure, “privacy-preserving way”.

It adds: “The health pass needs to be usable both by national border authorities and other organisations within countries. It should also include the ability to demonstrate time-restricted testing status for those who aren’t able to be vaccinated.

“With this ability to securely prove vaccination status, we can move beyond blunt, catch-all tools and align with other countries by removing certain restrictions for the fully vaccinated – thereby enabling us to sustainably reopen the economy.”

For travel, the report proposes that anyone who is fully vaccinated should be free to travel to and from any country currently designated as “green” without any quarantine period or testing required.

Commenting on the report, Blair said: “The management of the Covid-19 pandemic is all about that management of risk. We place or remove restrictions here at home on that basis. We assess countries as green, amber or red on that basis. We vaccinate on the same basis. We know that vaccination radically reduces the risk of transmission and the risk of serious illness. It doesn’t eliminate the risk. But the reduction is substantial and game-changing. Hence the country’s embrace of vaccination and pride in doing it quickly.

“It is time to distinguish for the purposes of freedom from restriction between the vaccinated and unvaccinated, both for citizens here for domestic purposes; but also for our citizens and those from other countries in respect of travel on the basis that being vaccinated substantially reduces risk. It therefore makes no sense at all to treat those who have had vaccination as the same as those who haven’t.”



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