Former prime minister Tony Blair has called for health passports and a change in vaccination policy before “colossal” damage is done to the UK.
Writing in The Independent, Blair said he understood objections about health passports, “but it will happen”.
“It’s the only way the world will function and for lockdowns to no longer be the sole course of action,” he said.
Blair added continuing with current Covid policy would mean “severe lockdown” until enough people were vaccinated, which experts suggest will mean mid-2020.
“As it is now, much of the country will not be vaccinated until spring or summer. The economic and health damage, physical and mental, caused by such a timetable will be colossal,” Blair said.
He called for younger age groups to be vaccinated as well as the elderly and vulnerable.
“The logic behind age is naturally heightened risk of mortality,” he said. “But if it is the spread we’re anxious about, then it makes sense to consider vaccinating those doing the spreading, in particular certain occupations or age groups such as students.”
Blair called for mass testing using the swift antigen test, such as used in Liverpool.
“On a national scale this could identify and curtail significant spread,” he said.
“There is a risk of a false negative with rapid tests; but at present all untested asymptomatic Covid cases are essentially false negatives. A 30-year-old asymptomatic Covid sufferer, unaware of their condition, could have a high viral load and be helping the virus mutate.”
Blair also criticised current data systems as being inadequate. “We must capture every test taken, every vaccine administered and every drug received in one single record,” he said.