It was MY idea! Tony Blair says he thought of UK vaccine plan first – despite Hancock snub

Tony Blair suggests he would 'delay' his vaccine for a teacher

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The former Prime Minister called for a delay between doses of the jab in a paper he published in December. He said it would allow more people to be protected from the deadly virus in a shorter space of time. However, the Government later introduced this, with a source close to the Health Secretary saying he was ending his briefings to the former Labour Party leader.

Mr Blair has now insisted the idea had come from conversations he had with experts and that he still had a “good relationship” with ministers.

He said during an Institute for Government think-tank yesterday: “It came out of discussions I had with a range of experts and I published it just before Christmas.

“But having said that…I have a perfectly good relationship with people in Government.

“I am perfectly happy to work with them or interact with them.

“But getting into, I don’t quite know how to put it politely, a game of ‘who thought up what first’, is neither seemly or very sensible.”

Mr Hancock was reported to be unhappy after two key proposals that were allegedly mentioned in private conversations later cropped up in Mr Blair’s own suggestions.

A source told the Mail on Sunday: “Matt was briefing Blair as a courtesy to a previous Prime Minister.

“But he cottoned on that Blair was milking these conversations.

“And that’s when Hancock said, ‘I’m not going to talk to you any more.'”

However, the Health Secretary declined to comment on this.

It comes as Mr Blair also warned viruses even more deadly than covid could strike around the world.

He said at yesterday’s think-tank: “It is likely that these types of pathogens will be present and can give rise to pandemics in a way that has never happened before in our world.

“If you go back over the last 20 years you can now see where we had near-misses.

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“If you look forward there is a risk at least, not just of mutations of this particular virus, but the creation of other viruses which could have the same transmissibility of this virus but, potentially, even more lethal consequences.

“Because that’s not a negligible risk, you’re going to have to prepare not only your own country (but also) the broader world for this new environment in which our health security is going to be positioned.”

Mr Blair added world leaders could have shortened the covid outbreak by three months if they had worked together on vaccines, testing and drugs.

He told the Guardian: “Had there been global coordination a year ago, I think we could have shaved at least three months off this virus.

“The time that it’s taken for us to identify the virus, to develop a vaccine and to get it into production and distribution has been roughly, 15 months. And the result of that has been that the world has suffered a huge, catastrophic economic event as well as a health event.

“The obvious lesson to draw for the future is, number one, you have to prepare for the potential of this happening again, or with different variants of this particular virus.

“And number two, you cannot afford to take this long to get on top of it.”

Express.co.uk has contacted Mr Hancock for a comment.

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