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UK should lead the way with Covid passports, says Tony Blair

Former PM says certificates are only way to ‘return to anything like normal’

Peter Stubley
Sunday 14 February 2021 16:41 GMT
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Video: Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi rejects Covid passporets as ‘discriminatory’

The UK should take the lead in creating a global coronavirus vaccination passport scheme, former prime minister Tony Blair has said.

Certificates that prove the holder has received a jab are the only way to “return to anything like normal”, he added.

Mr Blair claimed in an article for The Daily Mail the world was already moving in the direction of the passports and Britain – which is leading the G7 group of countries in 2021 – should help impose a common set of rules and standards.

He also insisted arguments against vaccination passports “really don’t add up” after the idea was rejected by the government and cabinet ministers Michael Gove and Nadhim Zahawi.

"This is not about discrimination, or hostility towards those not vaccinated or tested," Mr Blair said.

"It is a completely understandable desire to know whether those we mix with might be carrying the disease."

Mr Blair said that technology such as QR codes on mobile phones could be used to make the passports "work effectively and with privacy".

He added: "This is not just about holidays. It’s also about business travel and freight.

"It’s about improving levels of confidence in going back to the workplace. Travelling on public transport. Joining events with large crowds. Most of all, seeing loved ones, especially those who may be among the most vulnerable to Covid-19."

Mr Blair also compared the scheme to the current demand by many countries, including the UK, for proof of a negative test on arrival at airports.

"Once vaccinations become widespread, this demand will naturally move to vaccination. Call it a passport, a certificate or proof of status – we will want to know."

While the Greek government has called for an EU vaccination certificate, the World Health Organisation said last week it was opposed to idea of making passports a condition for entry because of uncertainty over the effectiveness of vaccines in reducing virus transmission and the limited number of vaccines available worldwide.

However Mr Blair said he had "looked at this from every angle and come to this conclusion: there is no prospect of a return to anything like normal without enabling people to show their Covid status, whether that means they have been vaccinated or recently tested."

He added: "Governments will have to lead this.... The sensible thing would be for the UK – which for 2021 has the lead in the G7 group of developed nations – to agree and help impose a common set of standards and rules in consultation with other countries and groups of nations. That would be in the interests of everyone.

"But we should start work on it now so we’re ready to go by June when the G7 is held in Cornwall. The need is obvious. The world is moving in this direction. We should plan for an agreed ‘passport’ now."

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