'Ridiculous' - Novavax volunteer cannot prove he’s been vaccinated

Laurence Ling

Laurence Ling, who volunteered to take part in the Novavax coronavirus vaccine trial last year, said it was "ridiculous" he was unable to prove that he had been vaccinated via the NHS app. - Credit: Submitted

A Norfolk man who participated in the Novavax coronavirus vaccine trial has expressed his frustration at how a gap in the system has meant the NHS app does not recognise him as vaccinated. 

Laurence Ling, a retired airline captain from North Walsham, volunteered last year to be part of the trial at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH).

Across the country 15,000 people took part in the trial, with 500 of the volunteers in Norfolk.

Mr Ling was not told whether he would receive a placebo or the real Novavax jab.

“I was quite prepared to do it, because it does take people stepping forward and helping out in a situation like this,” said Mr Ling. 

Latest NHS figures show there were 45 people with Covid-19 occupying beds at Norfolk and Norwich Uni

Mr Ling particpated in the trial at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH), receiving his jabs in October and November last year. - Credit: Evening News © 2009


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The 65-year-old was called by the NHS in February to be offered an approved vaccine and was unblinded from the trial, revealing he received the genuine vaccine.

Though he received a ‘vaccinated’ card, the NHS smartphone app refuses to assign him a vaccination status.  

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After calling 119, Mr Ling was informed it was currently impossible on the app to give vaccinated status to Novavax trial participants. 

North Norfolk MP Duncan Baker. Picture: Supplied by Duncan Baker

Mr Ling said he had contacted the office of Duncan Baker MP about the issue, and was informed that representations had been made to the Department of Health over the issue. - Credit: Duncan Baker

Mr Ling raised the issue with both the NNUH and Duncan Baker MP, and was informed by representatives of each that he was not the first person to get in touch about it. 

Mr Baker’s assistant assured him that representations had been made to the Department of Health.

In a comment to this paper, Mr Baker said: 

"My office has been contacted by several constituents who have raised similar concerns to Mr Ling.

"I do understand these concerns and I am raising them with the Department of Health and Social Care. 

"As I understand it, trial participants cannot see their vaccine in the app because it has not been approved yet.

"Should the Novavax vaccine be approved, I am sure the department will want this to be shown in the app and I will push to ensure this happens as soon as possible for constituents.”

In January, Novavax announced phase 3 UK trials had shown their vaccine had 89pc efficacy, but the company is not expected to file for approval of the vaccine until July at the earliest, due to manufacturing issues.

Mr Ling has been told the issue will be resolved “in due course”, but said his situation left him “caught between a rock and hard place”.

Laurence Ling

“This is a ridiculous situation, which yet again the lack of joined-up thinking from the government has created,” said Mr Ling. - Credit: Submitted

The app has a vaccine passport function, which enables users to travel abroad. 

“Imagine if I had to travel in the next couple of months, for family reasons, and wasn’t able to,” he said. 

“I’d have to go and get one of the approved vaccines - that would take a whole load more time, and it just seems a very unfair way of treating us.”

“Even if I did go to a vaccination centre at the moment, I’m not sure they’d give me one anyway,” he added, acknowledging there could be health concerns about having more than one kind of coronavirus vaccine. 

“This is a ridiculous situation, which yet again the lack of joined-up thinking from the government has created,” said Mr Ling. 

A Government spokesperson said: “We are working to ensure those who volunteered to receive a test Covid-19 vaccine in a clinical trial, where that vaccine has now been approved, are able to access their vaccine status via the NHS App or by calling 119.

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