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Friday, January 27, 2023

Tony Blair calls for immunity passports to restart international travel

Former UK prime minister Tony Blair has called for immunity passports to be introduced to allow people to travel abroad again.

A report by his think tank, the Tony Blair Institute, said an international “Covid Pass” should include the traveller’s vaccination details – including what brand of vaccine they had been given, two shots or one, and the date it was injected.

Mr Blair said it was inevitable countries would seek to bring in vaccine passports amid the global race to achieve herd immunity.

He wants the UK to use its presidency of this year’s G7 summit to push for a standardised system to be rolled out worldwide.

“The UK faces a choice: lead or be led,” Mr Blair’s think tank said.

“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.”

The former Labour prime minister envisages a digital system using QR codes for the design of the scheme.

Mr Blair’s call for immunity passports is his latest intervention in the pandemic. He also pressured the government to change the dosing regimen to allow a longer window between the first and second injections.

The UK government has previously denied it plans to bring in vaccine passports for inoculated Britons but some businesses and non-government bodies are beginning to move in that direction.

In December, the International Air Transport Association said it was developing a digital health pass to prove passengers have tested negative for Covid-19 or have been vaccinated before boarding flights.

The UN World Trade Organisation said vaccine certificates should be introduced to restart the tourism industry.

“The rollout of vaccines is a step in the right direction, but the restart of tourism cannot wait. Vaccines must be part of a wider, co-ordinated approach that includes certificates and passes for safe cross-border travel,” UNWTO secretary-general Zurab Pololikashvili said.

There are signs employers may also force employees to get the vaccine. Pimlico Plumbers, a major London plumbing company, said earlier this month it planned to bring in a “no jab, no job” policy after widespread distribution of the vaccine.

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