People who participated in trials for Covid vaccines that have not yet been approved are to be offered two additional doses of the Pfizer jab to allow them to travel internationally, the government has announced.
The policy applies to more than 21,000 individuals, some 15,000 of whom received the Novavax vaccine last summer as part of large-scale testing, and will provide them with the necessary status needed to visit countries which do not recognise trial vaccinations.
The additional doses will initially be offered to those who trialled the Novavax jab, which has been found to be safe and effective but has yet to be approved by the UK’s medicine regulator, before being extended to people who received other vaccines still under review.
These individuals have found themselves in limbo throughout the past year – unable to receive an approved jab during the UK rollout and, as a result, restricted from visiting countries that only grant entry to those individuals who have been immunised with globally-recognised vaccines.
But the under new guidance issued by the government, these people will now be able to receive two doses of the Pfizer vaccine – separated by the usual eight-week gap.
“The measures we have taken will allow UK Covid-19 vaccine trial participants to travel freely overseas once they have had the additional vaccinations,” said Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, England’s deputy chief medical officer.
“Those volunteers now have the flexibility to make a decision for themselves so they can, for example, visit loved ones abroad.”
The UK recognises those who participated in Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials as fully vaccinated; however, the majority of other countries do not.
It’s understood the government is set to push other nations to change their policy on this and make it easier for clinical trialists across the world to travel.
“If more countries around the world had reciprocated by allowing UK volunteers to enjoy fully vaccinated status for overseas travel, these measures would not have been necessary,” said Prof Van-Tam.
Trials have been conducted globally on receiving a third vaccine dose, but not a fourth. Senior health officials do not anticipate any complications to arise, and 1-to-1 clinical counselling will be provided for clinical trialists to address their questions and concerns around receiving additional doses.
In January, Novavax posted positive results for its UK trial, but it has yet to file for approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), saying it intends to do so in the next “couple of months”.