UK cancels Covid vaccine contract with Franco-Austrian firm

September 13, 2021 | 16:30
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French-Austrian biotech laboratory Valneva said Monday the British government has terminated a supply deal for its candidate vaccine against Covid-19.
UK cancels Covid vaccine contract with Franco-Austrian firm
UK cancels Covid vaccine contract with Franco-Austrian firm (Illustration photo/ Indranil MUKHERJEE / AFP)

Britain had ordered 100 million doses of the vaccine for 2021-2022 -- the only order so far for Valvena, which has a production facility in Livingstone, Scotland.

Britain "has alleged that the company is in breach of its obligations under the Supply Agreement, but the Company strenuously denies this," Valneva said in a statement.

The UK government has yet to comment on the decision.

Unlike most high-profile coronavirus shots, which use various methods to prime the immune system to fight the coronavirus, Valneva's VLA2001 is based on an "inactivated" version of the coronavirus itself.

The laboratory had indicated at the end of August that on the basis of the Phase 1 and 2 trials, it hoped to have a vaccine that is more than 80 percent effective.

Valneva said Monday the contract provides the British government with the right to cancel the deal, and it had received "a termination notice from the UK Government".

"Valneva has worked tirelessly, and to its best efforts, on the collaboration with (the British government) including investing significant resources and effort to respond to (its) requests for variant-derived vaccines.

"Valneva continues to be committed to the development of VLA2001 and will increase its efforts with other potential customers to ensure that its inactivated vaccine can be used in the fight against the pandemic," it said.

- 'Clearly concerning' -

Valneva reiterated that its Phase 3 results should be available early in the fourth quarter, and that these "will form part of its rolling submission for conditional approval of VLA2001 with the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency."

"Subject to these data and MHRA approval, Valneva believes that initial approval for VLA2001 could be granted in late 2021."

Scotland's health secretary, Humza Yousaf, said on Twitter that the decision to terminate the contract was "clearly concerning for local workforce in Livingstone."

"We will work with the Company to seek assurances about the future of the facility. For assurance, we have enough vaccine supply for our future programme," including booster shots, Yousaf said.

Prior to the announcement, the UK government had ordered more than 535 million doses of vaccines from various companies.

The vaccine made by Cambridge-based drugs giant AstraZeneca is the most widely offered in the UK, while those under 40 are offered the mRNA shots of US firms Pfizer and Moderna due to blood clotting concerns.


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