Former prime minister Tony Blair has raised concerns that countries could become “isolated from the world” because they lack capacity to vaccinate their populations against coronavirus.
The former Labour leader urged G7 leaders to vaccinate the world in 2021 “if we can” in order to tackle new variants emerging, while calling for a worldwide surveillance database to spot them when they do.
He told the Evening Standard that while Israel had reopened its economy by using vaccine certification – which he said had been “highly effective” – the country “can’t really open their borders”.
The former prime minister added: “China has been effectively shut down for a long period of time and will probably stay that way.
“So, they are able to control the disease inside their borders, and obviously it is a very powerful state in China, but if you’re going to open the world back up again, then you have got to make sure the entire world is vaccinated.
“And the big risk is that you end up with countries – and this is because we work so much with African governments – my anxiety is that you’re going to have countries essentially kind of isolated from the world, because they don’t have the capacity to vaccinate their people.”
Mr Blair recognised there is “a lot of anxiety” around the use of vaccine passports, but said they are “inevitable” for the future of international travel.
He said proof of negative tests is already required for travel overseas so it is likely that proof of vaccination will be required, while it is likely to become part of our everyday life “whether we like it or not”.
In a wide-ranging interview, the former prime minister said the pandemic had reinforced the need for global co-operation.