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Britons vaccinated with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine will be allowed to travel to the US when restrictions are eased in November, the White House’s chief medical adviser suggested on Tuesday.
Dr Anthony Fauci said he could not see “any reason” why British travellers who are fully vaccinated with the jab – which is not approved for use in the US – should be denied entry.
The US confirmed on Monday that it will lift its 18-month blanket ban on travellers from the UK, China, India and countries within the EU, introduced as a pandemic control measure during Donald Trump’s presidency.
From November, vaccinated passengers will be able to enter the US from the UK and the EU. All foreign travellers will need to demonstrate proof of vaccination status before boarding aircraft, as well as proof of a negative Covid test three days prior to flying.
Dr Fauci told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme he did not think there would be “any problem” for Britons vaccinated with the AstraZeneca jab entering the US, but insisted the final decision lay with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
He said: “I can’t account for every vaccine that’s been approved by the UK – I’m not sure of all of them. But the specific one about AZ, given that we have a substantial amount of information on the AZ vaccine – without being definitive about it – I would predict that there would not be a problem there. But again, the final decision lies with the CDC.”
The UK has authorised three vaccines, including AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Moderna, with the latter two also being approved for use in the US.
Boris Johnson’s spokesman said he was also confident the AstraZeneca jab would allow for entry to the US as he had “no indications” that it would not be recognised.
The AstraZeneca jab was developed by researchers at the pharmaceutical giant in partnership with the University of Oxford, and has formed the cornerstone of both the UK and the world’s vaccination programme as the only Covid vaccine sold at cost.
AstraZeneca’s hopes of a US rollout stalled when the country’s Food and Drug Administration failed to grant its jab emergency-use approval.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, run by Dr Fauci, released a statement in March that accused AstraZeneca of providing “outdated information” in its clinical trial results.
Pascal Soriot, the chief executive of AstraZeneca, has said the company will now seek a US licence for its vaccine in the autumn.
However, a risk of rare blood clots led to the vaccine being shunned by many countries in favour of alternative jabs.
Demand for flights to the US soared on Monday evening as travellers reacted joyously to the news that restrictions would end. Virgin Atlantic saw a 600 per cent increase in bookings compared to the same time last week, with New York, Orlando and Las Vegas among the most popular destinations.
Adit Damodaran, an economist at fare tracking company Hopper, said air fares between Europe and the US were expected to rise following the announcement.