Clinical trial participants can now access digital NHS Covid Pass

Those who took part in testing programmes can now demonstrate their status

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Citizens that took part in clinical vaccine trials will be able to demonstrate their vaccination status using the digital Covid Pass available through the NHS App.

Until recently, those who were vaccinated as part of a clinical trial could only prove their status by contacting the organisers of the trial in which they took part and requesting written confirmation. But it is understood that government has been updating the systems through which vaccine status can be demonstrated – primarily the Covid Pass that is included in the NHS app – to ensure that trial participants have access to the same documentation as those who have been immunised during the wider vaccine rollout.

These updates are due to be concluded by the end of this week. Prior to which, it is understood that the government has sent a letter to all those who, during a trial, received a full dose of a vaccine that has since been approved for use in the UK. This letter is intended to offer the same evidence of status as does the digital Covid Pass.

Some clinical trial participants PublicTechnology spoke to indicated that they had seen their vaccine status updated in the NHS app in the last week or so – and that they now have access to a Covid pass.

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Almost 30,000 people across the UK took part in stage three clinical trials, including 10,754 that participated in final testing of the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine and about 6,000 that involved in the programme to test the single-shot Janssen vaccine. Both of these have since been approved for use in the UK.

A further 11,955 were involved in trials of a vaccine from Novavax that – despite a reported efficacy of more than 90% – has delayed applications for regulatory approval for its product. 

But recipients of this vaccine, despite it still being unlicensed in this country, will also be able to obtain a Covid pass, it is understood.

The government intends to address any other issues that could cause a trial participant – whether the trial was for a licensed or unlicensed vaccine – to be disadvantaged compared with those vaccinated as part of the NHS rollout.

This includes offering an additional vaccine course to all those who received a full or partial placebo in the trial in which they took part.

The government is in talks with devolved administrations in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to try and ensure a consistent approach across the UK to clinical trial participants seeking to demonstrate vaccination status.

Currently, organisers of large events and crowded indoor venues like nightclubs are encouraged by government to ask attendees to provide a Covid pass. From the end of September, the pass – which can also obtained, on a temporary basis, by recording a negative PCR test – will be a legal requirement.


Sam Trendall

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