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Coronavirus vaccine: Tony Blair advising Health Secretary Matt Hancock on strategy in ‘secret talks’

The former Prime Minister has previously called for more first doses of vaccines to be given

Tony Blair has held secret talks with the Health Secretary Matt Hancock to offer advice on the government’s vaccine strategy, it has been reported.

Mr Hancock did not deny the claim when asked on Sunday, telling Sky News’ Sophy Ridge: “I talk to all sorts of people and we take ideas from lots of sources.”

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The Sunday Times reported that the former Labour prime minister has spoken to the health secretary on several occasions during the pandemic to offer “strategic advice” on mass testing and vaccines.

He is also reported to have spoken to Dido Harding, the head of NHS Test and Trace, and Steve Bates, a former Labour adviser who sits on the vaccine taskforce.

Calls for single dose vaccinations

Last month, Mr Blair was one of the first public figures to call for the government to give more first doses of Covid-19 vaccines and increase the period of time before a second jab is administered.

Speaking on Good Morning Britain, the former Labour leader said the UK must “use every single available bit of capacity in order to make sure these vaccines are used”.

He added: “We need to be ramping all of this up, and we just need to go on to a completely different footing with it. There’s really no reason why you need a very complicated system to do it. I get a flu jab every year and I get it at my local pharmacy, it’s not complicated.”

‘He left office at the peak of his powers’
File photo dated 5/1/20021 of Matt Hancock who has backed more stringent enforcement of the lockdown by police and warned that File photo dated 5/1/20021 of Matt Hancock who has backed more stringent enforcement of the lockdown by police and warned that
Matt Hancock has said every adult will be offered a coronavirus vaccine by autumn (Photo: Victoria Jones/PA Wire)

The former Prime Minister is credited with being an early proponent of mass testing, and is reported to have used the term “moonshot” in a paper that foreshadowed the government’s later plan of the same name, as well as the use of masks and quarantining.

A friend of Mr Blair said to The Sunday Times: “Tony believes deeply, as do many of the people around him, that he left office at the peak of his powers.

“He got better at governing as time went on. Ten years later, he is definitely animated by a burning feeling that the British governance is inadequate. He feels that he has the drive and ideas to change that.”

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