In April, former Prime Minister Tony Blair suggested Boris Johnson’s government was “probably slow” in its early response to the coronavirus pandemic, telling Sky News that he “can’t see any way out” of the COVID-19 lockdown without mass testing of the public.
Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has called for a sweeping mass testing program incorporating laboratory-based tests and quick, on-the-spot tests as the best option for helping keep the country’s COVID-19 pandemic “in check”, writes the Express.
Blair, who was in office from 1997 to 2007, cautioned against the decision of the current UK Government to proceed with an easing of lockdown restrictions when coronavirus levels remain “stubbornly high,” adding that this could only be done with the best containment plan of action in place.
As he lauded the mass testing system as imperative for handling the pandemic, Blair suggested that both antigen and antibody tests needed to be used, “which will allow us to test the bulk of the population and do so, if necessary, regularly.”
Instead of current “targeted and controlled” testing, Tony Blair called upon Downing Street to “shift at speed” to introduce a mass testing scheme.
The former Prime Minister cited a study revealed by his think tank, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, according to which efforts in Britain are predominantly focused around laboratory-based tests for people displaying coronavirus symptoms, as well as key workers.
A video grab from footage broadcast by the UK Parliament’s Parliamentary Recording Unit (PRU) shows Britain’s Business Secretary Alok Sharma wiping his brow as he makes a statement in the House of Commons in London on June 3, 2020, as lockdown measures ease during the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic
The study suggests an excessive dependence on the much-touted UK track and trace model as a way of containing the spread of the respiratory disease, while pointing out that the system is not fully ready or workable yet.
Mass testing, coupled with “track-and-trace” should work in conjunction to ensure a safe easing of lockdown measures.
Amid cited concerns that early tests may fail to pick up the virus, the research claims that under mass testing, “tests are available for all regardless of symptoms”, while there could also be opportunity for a contacted citizen to take two tests, seven days apart, and if both returned negative.
A medical worker tests a key worker for the novel coronavirus Covid-19 at a drive-in testing centre at Glasgow Airport on April 29, 2020, as the UK continues in lockdown to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Such measures, claims the study, would serve to promote early exit from self-isolation for those eligible.
Touting the study’s findings, while deploring the government’s perceived failings regarding mass testing, Tony Blair said:
In April Blair addressed the criticism levelled at Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his team over their response to the COVID-19 pandemic, after a report by The Sunday Times claimed ministers had missed a spate of opportunities to mitigate the impact of the virus in the weeks leading up to the lockdown.
Blair acknowledged that the pandemic “is a hellishly difficult challenge, there’s never been anything like it.”
At the time his Tony Blair Foundation for Global Change presented a potential exit plan for easing the coronavirus lockdown introduced in March, urging mass testing of the public, “including the development of the community force”.
Blair was quoted by Sky News as saying:
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