Writing for the Independent, Blair called on the British government to make a radical change to the country’s Covid-19 vaccination plan, amid a massive upturn in infections.
The challenge, according Blair, is to vaccinate people spreading the virus as well as those who are most vulnerable to it.
“As it is now, much of the country will not be vaccinated until spring or summer. The economic and health damage, physical and mental, caused by such a timetable will be colossal,” Blair wrote.
Currently, the health authorities are administering the Pfizer vaccine to the most vulnerable people in the UK, using two doses approximately three weeks apart. The AstraZeneca vaccine, which will reportedly be approved for use in the UK next week, uses the same two dose course.
"Vaccine strategy should be changed – to get a single shot to as many people as possible to slow the spread of coronavirus."
Blair, who served as UK Prime Minister from 1997 to 2007, remains a divisive figure in Britain having presided over the controversial invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 2003.
The former PM’s remarks have been met with a mixed reaction.
One person wrote on Twitter: “13 years since he left office and Tony Blair is still a million times more prime ministerial than the clown squatting in Downing Street. Spot on as usual from TB.”
Meanwhile, others were less complementary.
“Has Tony suddenly become a vaccine expert and knows more than cmo or Pfizer it health regulatory board - this man will stop at nothing for publicity- only give half a vaccine - Hm if Pfizer said they only had a 50% effectiveness rate we wouldn’t be using it or passed it – doh,” said one commentator on social media.
Another Twitter user was keen to dismiss Blair on account on his record as PM: “Of course people in the UK should listen to the advice of a liar, thief and a war criminal Tony Blair in connection to how to protect their health from China virus.”
Blair’s comments come as the UK faces another serious wave of Covid-19 after authorities identified a new virus strain, prevalent in Britain, which is supposedly 70 percent more contagious.
The former PM believes using all the vaccine doses available to the state will help tackle the pandemic and reduce the need for further lockdowns.
“We should consider using all the available doses in January as first doses, that is, not keeping back half for second doses. Then, as more production is rolled out, we will have enough for the second dose,” Blair argues.
“Thirty million Johnson and Johnson vaccines – which is a one-dose vaccine – should also be with us by end of January. We should aim to use them all in February.”
As of December 21, the first dose of the Pfizer vaccines had been given to 500,000 people in the UK.