politics

Tony Blair urges Government to speed up Covid vaccinations to avoid ‘cat and mouse game’ with new variants


The former Labour prime minister predicted that it will be difficult for people to have a “normal life” in the future unless they can “prove” their vaccination status.  

He told Good Morning Britain: “What we are learning about this disease – and I’m afraid this is going to be a big big problem for us in the future – is that it is a bit of a cat and mouse game.  

“You’ve got the risk the longer you delay this [vaccine rollout] that you get another variation of the disease which is more difficult for us to deal with.  

“So you’ve got the one that most people think of as developed here but it was actually just discovered here but you’ve got the one coming out of South Africa which is much more worrying.

“And you could have further mutations of the disease. So the quicker you do this vaccination programme the better it is – not just to get us back to normal – but also to fight the disease.”

It comes as the Tony Blair Institute published a paper on Wednesday setting out how the Government could scale up the delivery of the coronavirus vaccine.  

The paper says the Government should introduce “vaccination stations” across the UK using polling stations as a blueprint.  

It also suggests considering drive-through vaccination sites, pop-up locations and mobile vaccination units as well as using all GP surgeries and every pharmacy.  

“I think you’ll find a situation where countries say to you ‘you’re not coming in here unless we see whether you’ve either been vaccinated, you’ve had the disease and got antibodies or you’ve had a recent high-quality test’.

“People have got to understand vaccination is going to be in the end your route to liberty.”

The New Labour PM suggested if the Government “throw absolutely everything” at the vaccination scheme that, by the last week of March, half the population could be vaccinated.

He added: “We reckon you could get up to three million a week by the end of January, four million a week by the end of February, five million a week in March and then you’ve got to use every single available bit of capacity in order to make sure these vaccines are used. That means I think altering completely the present plan that we have…we should be thinking about this on a completely different scale now.”

He added: “You’ve occupational health workers – several thousand of those – they are perfectly qualified to give what is essentially a flu jab.”

<p>Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi is trying to massively speed up the jabs</p>
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Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi is trying to massively speed up the jabs

/ PA Archive/PA Images )

He told Sky News: “It’s a big target, and I think the Prime Minister is right to set challenging targets.  

“We need to get on with this and do it as quickly but as safely as possible, which is why I commend the NHS for the plan that they put in place.”

It comes as an estimated 1.1m people in England – the equivalent of one in 50 – had Covid between December 27 and January 2, according to the Office for National Statistics. 



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