TOP-UP jabs will be offered to thousands of Brits who took part in Covid vaccine trials so they can travel abroad at last.
Up to 21,000 people will get third and fourth doses of the Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Moderna jabs because other countries refuse to accept their experimental ones.
Ministers had their hands forced as holiday destinations refused to accept vaccine passports from people in unfinished trials of the Novavax and Valneva studies.
Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, deputy chief medical officer, said: “This will allow UK Covid-19 vaccine trial participants to travel freely overseas once they have had the additional vaccinations.
“We should be very clear that the results from these trials benefit the whole world.
“And it has to be said that 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.”
Scientists have never tried giving four doses of a Covid vaccine to someone before but said trials of three jabs had shown that was safe.
There is no expectation that a fourth jab will be any riskier, and it will only be given at least eight weeks after the third.
Because of this gap, those getting the top-ups will not be able to travel before the new year.
Brits need to be fully vaccinated with one of four approved jabs to get a vaccine passport – those made by Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna or Johnson & Johnson.
There are around 15,000 people vaccinated with Novavax’s jab and 6,000 who have had Valneva’s, neither of which have been approved by the UK’s MHRA regulator yet.
Professor Paul Heath, who runs the Novavax study, said: “For too long our participants have been disadvantaged in terms of international travel because this vaccine is not yet approved.
“But trial participants now have the flexibility to receive booster doses, or additional doses for travel purposes, if they wish to.”
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