Former UK PM Blair calls for global vaccine passport

Former UK PM Blair calls for global vaccine passport
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair speaks at a Reuters Newsmaker event on ‘The challenging state of British politics’ in London, Britain, November 25, 2019. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 28 January 2021

Former UK PM Blair calls for global vaccine passport

Former UK PM Blair calls for global vaccine passport
  • Report from the Tony Blair Institute outlines plans for QR code ‘health passports’ to allow reopening of the global economy
  • Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Health has already introduced a ‘health passport’ for Saudis

LONDON: Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has urged the UK to use its leadership of the G7 to establish a global ‘health passport’ scheme, or risk others dictating the rules.

Blair, in a report published Thursday by the Tony Blair Institute, called current border restrictions “disjointed” and urged Britain’s current Prime Minister Boris Johnson to “place the creation of a global COVID-19 travel pass as a key item on the G7 agenda.”

Britain’s leadership of the G7 — a multilateral body consisting of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States — means it is perfectly placed to spearhead the initiative, he argued.

The think tank’s report outlines a plan to introduce digital passports capable of tracking and verifying an individual’s coronavirus “status” wherever they travel in the world. They would include details of any vaccination received, together with the results of COVID-19 tests. That data would be accessed by scanning a QR code, rather than using paper certificates that could be vulnerable to fraud.

The idea has already been implemented unilaterally by other countries worldwide, including Saudi Arabia which introduced one earlier this month.

Blair told the Telegraph newspaper that he acknowledged that “vaccine passports” could lead to inequalities between individuals and nations, but claimed that their development is “inevitable.”

He said the UK faced two risks if it does not take advantage of its G7 leadership to “take the initiative” and establish a gold standard.

“One is that everyone just does their own thing, which is much more chaotic and difficult to manage. Or secondly, there’s a set of rules in place that you may not be that happy with.”

Blair said uniform standards would ensure the safe reopening of borders and aid economic recovery, particularly of the tourism industry — which accounts for 10 percent of the global economy and has been devastated by the pandemic and its ensuing restrictions.

“It’s better to have common rules and a common verification system, so that people know what your disease status is and know it with some validation.”

Blair added that seeking consensus among the G7 countries “will be a critical first step in securing wider global agreement.”