Covid Scotland: Alternative for Scots on Novavax trial to be considered

Officials are today to consider whether Scots volunteers who took part in the Novavax vaccine trial will be offered an alternative jag, following their counterparts in the rest of the UK.

MSP Douglas Lumsden, who took part in the trial himself, alongside around 1,000 Scots, raised the issue at First Minister’s Questions.

Nicola Sturgeon said that the issue would be discussed this afternoon in a meeting with the health secretary, the Secretary of State and the Chief Medical Officer.

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The vaccine, which is being made in the north east of England, may not be approved for use until the middle of next year, leaving people unable to get a booster dose. The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation and the Department of Health earlier this month confirmed Novavax volunteers could have two doses of Pfizer.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on a visit to the Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies plant in Billingham, Teesside, which is scheduled to make millions of doses of the new Novavax vaccine.

Those who received the Novavax vaccine have also previously raised concerns because they have only been issued paper vaccine certificates, which they say not every venue or airline recognises.

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Mr Lumsden said: “As the First Minister knows, I along with many other Scots, are taking part in the Novovax vaccine trial. It's now over two weeks, since trialists in other parts of the United Kingdom have been contacted and offered an alternative vaccine. But in Scotland, there has been silence. Can I ask the First Minister whether the Scottish Government will follow the UK Government in offering trial participants to have an alternative vaccine? This would give them clarity and peace of mind that they are protected.”

Ms Sturgeon replied: “Discussions are ongoing on that matter. We have absolutely made clear that there'll be no disadvantage to those taking part in vaccine trials. I know that the health secretary is having discussions with the Secretary of State and the Chief Medical Officer later today and of course we'll update Parliament as soon as possible.”

Novavax previously said it remains committed to filing for approval in the UK, however, it has faced production delays.

The vaccine is one of a number still being worked on, alongside one made by Valneva, which is due to be manufactured in Livingston, despite the UK Government cancelling its contract for the product in September.

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