Tony Blair has called for immunity passports to be rolled out and urged the UK to take advantage of its upcoming position chairing the G7 to push other countries to do the same.
The former prime minister said it was “inevitable” the idea will be developed by other nations, as the global race for inoculation against coronavirus gets under way.
A report by his non-profit organisation the Tony Blair Institute said the “only way to navigate allowing people to travel internationally again” is creating a global travel pass showing each individual’s COVID-19 status.
Live COVID updates from the UK and around the world
The idea has been mooted before but was rejected by Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove just last month, when he told Sky News: “I certainly am not planning to introduce any vaccine passports, and I don’t know anyone else in government who is.”
Since then, the Sunday Telegraph reported the government is funding at least eight separate firms to develop such a product, which is already in use in countries in the Middle East and Asia.
Mr Blair has made multiple interventions during the pandemic, and recently suggested the idea of pushing back the second dose of coronavirus vaccines to dramatically increase the number of people offered at least some protection.
The idea gained traction and is now government policy, helping boost the UK’s global standing in the race to administer jabs.
Turning his attention to what happens next, Mr Blair’s institute said the UK should “place the creation of a global COVID-19 travel pass as a key item on the G7 agenda”, when leaders from the US, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada congregate in Cornwall later this summer.
It added Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s approach to international travel is “disjointed” and “unco-ordinated” – costing hundreds of billions in exports, foreign investment and tourism.
The report released on Thursday said: “The UK faces a choice: lead or be led. If we choose to wait, a confusing array of different passports await our citizens.
“We can avoid this and the complications of multiple passes and varying travel requirements if the UK takes the lead on developing a single, global COVID pass.
“In the year of the UK’s G7 presidency, there has never been a more momentous opportunity – or need – for the government to show global leadership.”
Zurab Pololikashvili, the UN World Tourism Organisation’s secretary-general, last week said at an event in Madrid: “Vaccines must be part of a wider, co-ordinated approach that includes certificates and passes for safe cross-border travel.”
The leaders of Spain, Italy, Greece, Cyprus and Malta have called for the introduction of certificates which designate if a traveller has been vaccinated or not.
In Australia, education minister Alan Tudge said on Monday planned “digital vaccine certificates” would allow international students to return to study in the country without the need for them to hotel quarantine.
Over three nights Sky News will host a series of special programmes examining the UK’s response to the pandemic.
Watch COVID Crisis: Learning the Lessons at 8pm on 9, 10 and 11 February
Source: Read Full Article