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Tony Blair: Possible to vaccinate whole world against Covid in eight months

Nicholas Cecil
·3-min read
Tony Blair (PA)
Tony Blair (PA)

The whole world could be vaccinated against Covid-19 within eight months, Tony Blair said today.

The former Prime Minister, whose Tony Blair Institute has been at the forefront of ideas to tackle the pandemic, also warned that the “biggest single” threat facing Britain is other countries failing to get inoculated because of concerns over vaccine safety and a far more dangerous variant then emerging.

Mr Blair told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We will produce a report in the next few weeks showing how we could, if the world got its act together, vaccinate the entire world in 2021, really ambitious but it’s really necessary.”

However, he warned of the “crazy situation” where European regulators are limiting the use of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine and also countries in Africa refusing the AZ jab “when it will have a huge beneficial impact on their people if they can get them vaccinated”.

He is calling for the Government to publish data on both AZ and the Pfizer/BioNTech jabs, including numbers of first doses, second doses, and also of these individuals who then have still contracted Covid, the number of those hospitalised, and the number of those who have died.

Watch: Tony Blair - Former prime minister says lobbying system is 'pretty clean'

“If you do that, it will show that AstraZeneca is a highly effective vaccine and that those doubts that are there, not so much in this country but around the world, are unjustified and wrong,” he explained.

“The reason why we need AstraZeneca to have that credibility is because AstraZeneca, along with Johnson and Johnson, the two big adenovirus vaccines, they are going to be the workhorse vaccines for vaccinating the world.

“The single biggest risk that we have right now is not the absence of vaccination in the UK because we are doing well on vaccination..the single biggest risk we have is that unless the world gets vaccinated fast, then we run the risk of further mutations and getting a mutation eventually that we find that the vaccines are not effective against.”

There is growing evidence of a rare type of bloods clot connected to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

However, the UK medicines regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, has said the benefits of the jab continue to far outweigh any risks.

As a precautionary measure, under-30s will be offered an alternative vaccine.

Other countries have taken a different approach, with Denmark stopping AstraZeneca’s use altogether in its vaccination programme.

The Tony Blair Institute’s other recommendations in a new report included establishing an international high-level group of experts to offer “clear and consistent guidance” on vaccines to national regulators.

Mr Blair’s think tank also suggested regulators should not pause the rollout of vaccinations over a suspected side effect but should instead wait until investigations are completed.

“Pausing to investigate is normal and correct practice in normal times,” the report said. “We are not in normal times.”

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