People who have been fully vaccinated should be offered greater freedoms to encourage people to take up the jab, Tony Blair has said.
The Labour former Prime Minister said it was “time to distinguish for the purposes of freedom” between fully jabbed Brits and those who haven’t been vaccinated – both at home and abroad.
Mr Blair said it makes “no sense at all to treat those who have had vaccination as the same as those who haven’t” – as he branded the NHS app “inadequate”.
Officials are gathering evidence over whether so-called Covid passports could unlock the return of crowds to large events and reduce the need for social distancing.
The Covid status certificates would allow Brits to provide proof of vaccination, a negative test or immunity from recent infection.
But Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove, who is leading the review, recently hinted to MPs that the plan may not be ready for June 21 and could even be axed altogether.
A report by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change championed the idea of health passes “to allow citizens to prove their status in a secure, privacy-preserving way”.
“With this ability to securely prove vaccination status, we can move beyond blunt, catch-all tools and align with other countries by removing certain restrictions for the fully vaccinated, thereby enabling us to sustainably reopen the economy,” it said.
It went on: “For as long as the world goes largely unvaccinated and the risk of a new variant remains significant, it’s vital that we have an alternative to the blunt tool of lockdowns to enable the country to live freely and safely.”
Mr Blair said: “It is time to distinguish for the purposes of freedom from restriction between the vaccinated and unvaccinated, both for citizens here for domestic purposes; but also for our citizens and those from other countries in respect of travel on the basis that being vaccinated substantially reduces risk.
“It therefore makes no sense at all to treat those who have had vaccination as the same as those who haven’t.”
He pointed to the report which described the current NHS app as “inadequate” and should be changed to be simpler and more effective.
“Nothing matters more to risk than vaccination, which is precisely why we’re doing it,” Mr Blair said.
“Yes by allowing greater freedom and fewer restrictions to the vaccinated we’re providing a powerful incentive to take up vaccination, but this is a perfectly valid public policy objective.
“Other than for medical reasons, people should be vaccinated.”
Asked if the plan would create a “discriminatory” two-tier society, he told the BBC: “I think the word discrimination has a very loaded meaning in the English language now but really when it comes to risk management, it is all about discrimination.
“The reason we vaccinate elderly people first is because they are more at risk, the reason we ensure people are vaccinated is because it then reduces the risk of transmission.
“I think since everybody is going to be able to get the vaccination, other than those who for medical reasons can’t, I think it really is important that people are encouraged to get vaccinated.”
A senior Government source said: “Once again Mr Blair appears to have learned of things already in the pipeline with the NHS app and decided to publicly call for them.
“Nonetheless we thank him for his continued support.”