A command and control team set up to manage future Covid outbreaks could help the UK stay “ahead of the curve”, Tony Blair has said.
The former prime minister also recommended that a vaccine infrastructure which could be mobilised within 48 hours is put in place, in anticipation that a fourth round of Covid jabs is needed in the near future.
A report by the non-profit Tony Blair Institute has also called for the Government to establish a task force which would try to convince the unvaccinated to come forward for the jab.
New Labour-era national leader Mr Blair said: “The lesson of Omicron emphasises yet again that Covid-19 surprises us usually on the downside.
“This report is about how we stay ahead of the curve, rather than constantly playing catch-up.
“To achieve this, we need to take decisions fast, take them in a co-ordinated manner, and execute effectively and at speed. Be prepared at all times.
“So, here, we set out how we make this happen, so that we don’t have unnecessary restrictions on our lives, but can cope with new variants and the possibility of a fourth or more vaccine dose, so business can plan ahead, so that we minimise uncertainty and maximise the predictability of daily life.
“We understand how difficult this is for Government. Right now, all the options are tough. But with the right forward thinking and preparation we can make the options easier to administer and for the public to understand and accept.”
The report emphasises the need for a strong “infrastructure” for future vaccine rollouts, noting that the speed at which the booster rollout has taken place is slower than the original two jabs because of a smaller national effort.
It calls for a “command and control” structure that could be rolled out in future, providing a “coherent public-health emergency operations centre” when required, as well as a “well-established system of Covid passes”.
It also calls on the Government to campaign to convince unvaccinated people to get jabbed, particularly the over-50s who are at more risk of hospital admission from Covid-19.
The report recommends the Covid vaccine is rolled out to five to 11-year-olds in order to lessen the impact of Covid on their education, and says that saliva-based PCR testing could be used in future, as it is less invasive than current test kits.
Mr Blair’s non-profit also recommends greater international co-operation on sharing vaccines with poorer nations in the global south.