An MSP who took part in a Covid-19 vaccine trial says he cannot join his family on holiday in Malta because he is unable to prove he is double jabbed.
Douglas Lumsden, a Scottish Conservative MSP, is one of more than 430 people from the NHS Grampian area who took part in the UK-wide study for the Novavax jab.
Volunteers say they have been “left in limbo” as they still cannot prove their vaccination status via NHS Inform or the Scottish Government’s new Covid passport app.
Instead, they must rely on a paper certificate issued by the Scottish Government.
Mr Lumsden, who represents the North East region at Holyrood, said he is unable to travel to Malta with his family as a result of his vaccination status not being recognised internationally.
He said: “My wife and my daughter are going on holiday on Sunday and I can’t go because so many countries are not accepting that letter as proof of vaccination.
“They don’t have to go into isolation when they get there but I would so it’s not an option.”
The current travel rules state that all UK arrivals to Malta must present proof of full vaccination.
However, those on clinical trials often find that countries will only accept vaccination records with approved vaccines – including Malta.
The Department of Health in England announced last week that vaccine trial volunteers in England will be offered additional approved vaccines for international travel from this week.
In response to our request for comment, the Scottish Government confirmed it will follow suit and will offer those on the Novavax trial in Scotland two additional doses of an approved vaccine, allowing international travel.
This will follow “appropriate counselling from their trial team”.
However, one of the trial’s volunteers from Aberdeen – who did not want to be named – is among those who has expressed concern that there is a lack of available health evidence on having an additional two different vaccines.
The UK recognises those on the Novavax trial as fully vaccinated for the purpose of certification domestically and internationally.
However, in Scotland, volunteers are still not registered on either the Covid passport app nor can they request a PDF or letter with a QR code via NHS Inform.
Instead, they have been issued with an interim letter, that can take at least two to three weeks to be replaced if lost or accidentally damaged.
In England, those who took part in the Novavax trial are recognised on the NHS Covid app for domestic purposes.
‘We are being treated differently’
Mr Lumsden said participants have been told the Scottish Government is working to add trial participants to the app and NHS Inform “for the last three months”.
He added: “The first minister always says that people on the vaccine trials shouldn’t be disadvantaged but we’re not being treated the same as everyone else.
“We should be able to go into the NHS Inform website to download a certificate; we should be able to use the app.
“I can imagine going to a football match or something where everyone is looking for the QR code and if you don’t have it it might raise a few suspicions.”
With vaccine passports set to be introduced in Scotland I took the opportunity to ask the First Minister to ensure those taking part in vaccine trials would not be disadvantaged. pic.twitter.com/0DfnccYl6a
— Douglas Lumsden MSP (@dlumsden) September 2, 2021
The unnamed volunteer from Aberdeen said trial participants have been “left in limbo” since May – the point at which all trial participants were vaccinated.
The participant – who has been fully vaccinated since last year – added: “I want the Scottish Government to engage with us via the phone or in person to show that they actually care.
“Because I really don’t think as elected officials that the way they’ve handled this has been appropriate and they’ve shown no regard for our welfare at all.”
However, in a statement the Scottish Government said it is “committed to ensuring that volunteers for the UK-led Novavax trial are not disadvantaged”.
He added: “Novavax triallists should have now received a paper vaccine certificate which is fully equivalent to the certificates provided through the normal route.
“They enable easier access to venues and will also permit smoother inbound entry to the UK.
“They do not have QR codes but be assured QR codes are not a requirement for domestic certification.
“UK partners have agreed that Records of Vaccination certificates for clinical trial participants will be accepted at venues.”
More than 15,000 people aged 18-84 across the UK have taken part in clinical trials for the Novavax Covid-19 vaccine.
The UK Government said the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the vaccine taskforce were working with vaccine companies to ensure their vaccines were authorised as soon as possible if they met the required safety and quality standards.
Novavax was contacted for comment.