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UK to offer new vaccine shots to Novavax trial volunteers

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FILE - In this Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2020 file photo, Phase 3 Novavax coronavirus vaccine trial vaccine volunteer Franklyn Howe is given an injection at St George's University hospital at in London. Britain says it it will offer new vaccinations to thousands of people who volunteered for trials of the Novavax coronavirus vaccine, which not yet been approved for use in any country. Some 15,000 people in the U.K. got Novavax shots as part of a clinical trial. While the U.K. recognizes them as vaccinated, most countries dont, meaning they cant travel. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant, File)

LONDON – Britain announced Friday that it will offer new vaccinations to thousands of people who volunteered for trials of the Novavax coronavirus vaccine, which hasn't yet been approved for use in any country.

Around 15,000 people in the U.K. got Novavax shots as part of a clinical trial. While the U.K. recognizes them as vaccinated, most countries don’t, meaning they can’t travel.

Britain’s health department said more than 15,000 participants will be given two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. The government says it plans to expand the offer to about 6,000 U.K. participants in trials of other vaccines that also haven't been approved for use.

Britain has appealed to other members of the Group of 20 nations to classify clinical trial volunteers as vaccinated, but most haven't done so.

England’s deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, noted that “if more countries around the world had reciprocated by allowing U.K. volunteers to enjoy fully vaccinated status for overseas travel, these measures would not have been necessary.”

In June, Novavax announced that its vaccine had proved about 90% effective against symptomatic COVID-19 in a study of nearly 30,000 people in the U.S. and Mexico.

U.S.-based Novavax has asked the World Health Organization to approve its COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use so it can be part of the COVAX global vaccine program. But it has delayed seeking approval in Europe or the United States.

The Novavax shots are easier to store and transport than some other options, and have long been expected to play an important role in increasing supplies in poor countries desperate for more vaccine doses.

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