Blair Calls for ‘Global Genomic Sequencing’ to Act Faster on New Variants

Former Labor Prime Minister Tony Blair urged the international community to “organize global genomic sequencing” to act faster on the new variants.

Mr Blair called for a “set of travel standards and travel restrictions or agreements on travel conditions that are agreed upon globally.”

He told BBC Radio 4’s The World This Weekend: “Now the G7 could have done it, it didn’t, the G20 could have done it, we haven’t done it yet. It should be done… If you don’t have an agreed set of standards and data sharing, it will be much, much more difficult to get the global economy back on track.

On the global response to Covid, he said: “I can’t really understand why the international community is finding this so difficult to manage, but ultimately, unless there are a few leading countries, including the Great Britain, who are really leading this charge, it’s hard to see how we’re going to come out of this.

Vaccinations, he said, “are the only way out” of the pandemic, adding: “If you have large unvaccinated populations, they are likely to mutate faster and further. organizing mass vaccination globally has been a huge problem throughout this crisis. ”

He continued, “So I think even at this point it’s possible to change course, but we have to organize it and so now it’s not just going to be about vaccine supply.

“I think in the coming weeks and months we will have a large amount of vaccine that will even flow to Africa, but we will have to organize the distribution, the logistics and we absolutely have to organize the global genomic sequencing so that we know what’s going on in the countries.

He added: “This is really important because the sooner you know that a new variant has appeared, the obviously easier it is to try to control it.”

Mr Blair said there could have been more vaccine manufacturing capacity “a few months ago if from the start we had reallocated significant amounts of global vaccine manufacturing capacity to Covid”.

Launching a new report from the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, titled The Urgent Need For Universal Genomic Sequencing: Vaccine Supply Is Not The Only Challenge For Africa, Mr Blair warned that there was a “major problem in many African countries. with vaccine hesitation ”.

The issue of vaccine reluctance, he added, “again requires a coordinated campaign across the world where you make it clear that vaccination is your only way out.”

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