Tuesday, 18 May 2021

‘How is he an expert?!’ Tony Blair faces vicious backlash after Covid vaccine comments

AstraZeneca: Tony Blair discusses vaccine hesitancy

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Tony Blair spoke with journalist Victoria Derbyshire about his campaign to get the UK Government to launch a publicity drive to bolster support of the AstraZeneca vaccine which has been struck by hesitancy across the world. The former PM explained some African countries have rejected it outright as the UK’s European neighbours also grapple with hesitancy in light of small blood clot risks. But the message was lost among viewers who challenged the legitimacy of Mr Blair and wondered why his opinion was needed for such a scientific issue. 

During his media round, viewers were less than impressed by Mr Blair’s appearance on TV. 

One viewer wrote: “BBC News apparently now sees Tony Blair as an expert in COVID-19.”

Another commented: “I swear they still ask for Tony Blair’s opinion on everything, and he still hasn’t even had a haircut yet.”

One watcher’s comments drew hundreds of retweets and likes which read: “What the hell has vaccine uptake got to do with Tony Blair and why is the media fawning over him like he’s an elected leader or remotely relevant?”

Many viewers also brought up Mr Blair’s involvement in the Iraq War and dismissed the former politician for his vaccine views. 

Speaking to BBC News, Mr Blair told Ms Derbyshire the UK Government should publish more scientific data on the efficacy and safety of the AstraZeneca vaccine to fix hesitancy across the world. 

He said: “In different parts of the world you’ve got different regulators with some saying it shouldn’t be used for over-65s with some saying it shouldn’t be used for under-65s.

“We’ve come across several African countries where people now refuse to take the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“And yet when you look at the data that has been published so far it is a highly effective vaccine. 

“It will stop hospitalisations, stop deaths or reduce them dramatically and so it is really important to restore the credibility of the vaccine”

Mr Blair added the AstraZeneca vaccine and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be the “workhorses” to solve the global coronavirus pandemic. 

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The call comes as Mr Blair backs a new report – the Restoring Confidence in the Workhorse Covid-19 Vaccines published by his Institute for Global Change – which demands the Government publishing key data related to the AstraZeneca vaccine. 

These include how many people contracted Covid again after being injected and how many were hospitalised or died after the vaccine. 

He wrote in the foreword of the report: “The global community has an interest in the world getting vaccinated, and fast.

“Otherwise, we risk mutations of a serious nature that require new vaccines.”

Vaccine hesitancy has grown in places like Europe as countries doubt the effectiveness of the AstraZeneca vaccine following reports it causes fatal blood clots. 

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In places like France, a YouGov poll in March revealed 61 percent of French respondents believe the AZ jab is unsafe compared to nine percent of Brits who think the same. 

In late March, vaccine centres in Calais and northern France reported hundreds of no-shows for their AstraZeneca vaccine as people hold out for different jabs. 

In the week the European Medicines Agency (EMA) revealed blood clots should be listed as a “very rare side effect” of the AZ vaccine Madrid saw over 60 percent of people rejecting their appointments. 

Vaccine programmes in Europe are beginning to make some progress but hesitancy fueled by heads of state continue to challenge their effectiveness.

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