Coronavirus testing should be expanded to those without symptoms, says Blair


People without coronavirus symptoms should be tested for the disease, even if the results are not “fully accurate”, former prime minister Tony Blair has insisted.

Mr Blair said that as the “largest part” of those who contract Covid-19 do not display symptoms of the virus, it was “sensible” for testing to be made more widely available.

Back in June, the former Labour leader had called for a mass coronavirus testing regime to be adopted, arguing this could help keep the disease in check.

He has now called on the UK to ensure it is using all its available capacity for tests.

But with testing at the moment largely used to confirm if those with Covid-19 symptoms – such as a cough, fever or loss of sense of taste or smell – have the disease, the former prime minister said a broader testing strategy should be adopted.

He spoke out on the issue in an interview with Scottish Conservative Holyrood leader Ruth Davidson as part of her new LBC radio show, An Inconvenient Ruth, which is broadcast on Sunday at 9pm.

Mr Blair said that as “you can’t eradicate” coronavirus, the country would have to “live with it” until a vaccine is found.

He added: “That’s why literally for six months, I’ve focused on the issue of testing and we have got to use all the testing capability at our disposal, and for reasons that I completely understand but disagree with, at the moment we’re only testing people with symptoms.

“The largest part of the people who get this disease are asymptomatic, so they don’t know that they’ve got it, so if you’re only testing people with symptoms, you’re missing the majority of people.

“Even if using all these tests that are available, even if these tests are not fully accurate, enough of them are accurate enough in my view to make it sensible to make them available, because you will at least have the best chance of picking up large numbers of asymptomatic people, whereas at the moment you’re not picking up virtually any of them.”