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The UK needs to be vaccinating 5 million people a week to get coronavirus pandemic under control, according to Tony Blair

The UK needs to be vaccinating five million people a week in order to get coronavirus under control, according to former Prime Minister Tony Blair.

Appearing on Good Morning Britain, Mr Blair told Piers and Susanna that the country needs to alter its plan for vaccination in reaction to the virulent new Covid-19 strain and that the government could vaccinate five million people a week in March if they use "every single available bit of capacity."

"We should be getting much more of it (Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine) on stream in the coming weeks. So you’ve got two questions, you’ve got the supply of the vaccine and you’ve got the capacity of the system to use whatever vaccine and get it swiftly into people’s arms and get the jab done," he said.

"What we’ve done today is suggest how you improve the supply side - so we reckon you could get up to three million a week by the end of January, four million a week by the end of February, five million a week in March and then you’ve got to use every single available bit of capacity in order to make sure these vaccines are used and that means altering completely the present plan that we have…We should be thinking about this on a completely different scale now."

Detailing how the government could vaccinate three million people by the end of January, Mr Blair explained: "You’ve got two vaccines that are available. We have several million of the Pfizer vaccine that is more difficult to administer it’s true and the settings in which you administer it needs a different level of expertise, but I believe the AstraZeneca vaccine will be up to two million by the end of January.

They [the government] should get it above that in February and then you’ve got several million of the Pfizer vaccine. If you position yourself properly to be able to use these vaccines, you should be able to get to three million a week by end of January...If you throw absolutely everything at this, I think you could get to the stage whereby roughly by the third week or last week of March, you’ve got over half the population vaccinated."

Asked what crucial things the government should be doing that they're not doing yet, Mr Blair responded: "They’re not using every available possibility for vaccinators. You’ve talked about the community pharmacies. We should have had all of those organised to do this, all the GP surgeries, you’ve got several thousand occupational health workers who are perfectly qualified. I would have mobile facilities as well, going round place by place. You could use polling stations. 

"We need to be ramping all of this up and need to go on a completely different footing with it. With the simple to use and administer vaccines…it’s not complicated."

"What we’re learning about this disease is that it is a bit of a cat and mouse. There is a risk that the longer you delay this, you get a variation of the disease which is more difficult for us to deal with. The quicker you do this vaccination programme, the better it is not just to get is back to normal but to fight the disease," he added.

On the topic of whether he would get the vaccine, Mr Blairr declared that he would get it "in a heartbeat."

"Yes of course. If you told me that I could go and get the vaccine now if I queued for three hours to get it, I would do it in a heartbeat...People have to got to understand that vaccination, in the end, is going to be your route to liberty." 

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