Blair questions Trump approach to coronavirus pandemic

Former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair is questioning President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance Meadows trying to root out suspected White House leakers by feeding them info: Axios Pressley hits DeVos over reopening schools: 'I wouldn't trust you to care for a house plant let alone my child' MORE’s approach to the coronavirus pandemic.

Blair expressed concern about “the absence of global coordination” during the pandemic, suggesting during an interview with NBC News on Friday that the U.S. may have lost its appetite to influence the global agenda.  

“If I think back to the times when I'm dealing with Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonDavis: Supreme Court decision is bad news for Trump, good news for Vance McCain's reset: US-Vietnam relations going strong after 25 years Facebook ad boycott is unlikely to solve the problem — a social media standards board would MORE or George Bush, Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaTrump defends golf outings: It's my 'exercise' How Trump can get his mojo back Trump confirms 2018 US cyberattack on Russian troll farm MORE as well, the most important thing at a time like this is to say, ‘How do you bring the world together?’” he said.

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“It's that global coordination, the absence of which means that each individual country's less effective at dealing with the disease,” he added. “That's the thing that worries.”

Trump has received criticism for his administration’s response to the pandemic, with some accusing him of downplaying the seriousness of the virus and others saying his officials reacted too slowly. 

NBC News asked Blair, who served from 1997 to 2007, about the president’s widely critiqued remarks about studying wither disinfectants could be used to treat the coronavirus, prompting the former prime minister to respond, “I think most people would understand what I would think, but it's probably better sometimes not to say it.”

Blair also warned of “terrifying” economic consequences if countries remain on lockdown. He said nations that shut down quickly and are “building, testing, tracing and tracking capability” quickly are able to be “more bold” on the economy.

“I think the problem that you have in most Western countries today is that people are now very well-informed about the risks of the disease,” he said.

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“I think they are not sufficiently well-informed about the risks of economic collapse,” he added.

Blair said people need to realize that the economic downturn across the world could be much worse than the health risks.

“We needed to terrify people sufficiently to get them to obey the lockdown, but you've got to also help people to understand that there is a limit to how long you can go on with this,” he said.

The pandemic has sparked an economic downturn as countries around the world have shut down parts of society to combat the coronavirus, which has infected more than 5.3 million people, according to Johns Hopkins University.