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EU “still interested” in Valneva COVID vaccine despite UK snub

Negotiations between Valneva and the EU are “ongoing and advanced”, with its vaccine candidate VLA2001 touted as a potential booster shot in France

The fallout from the UK government’s decision to cancel a €1.4bn vaccine contract with French biotech Valneva continues to be felt, with questions in Parliament, a potential lifeline from the EU and participants in clinical trial left in limbo.

Valneva announced on Monday that it had received a termination notice from the UK government citing a breach of obligations, sending the company’s shares tumbling. Valneva strenuously denies the accusation.

When pressed to explain the decision in Parliament, UK health secretary Sajid Javid cited “commercial reasons” for cancelling the contract, adding that “it was also clear to us that the vaccine in question… would not get approval by the MHRA here in the UK.”

Data from the recent UK trial, Cov-Boost, which tested the effectiveness of several potential booster jabs, is reported to show that Valneva’s vaccine, VLA2001, performed less well than its rivals, although these data have yet to be published.

Since the UK announcement, an unnamed source in the French government has spoken of “ongoing and advanced” discussions between Valneva and the European Commission. “The EU is still interested in this vaccine,” said the source, suggesting that the Valneva vaccine could be used as a booster shot, in France at least.

A deal with the EU would be a lifeline for the company, which saw its shared plunge 35% following the UK government’s decision, although it has since made up some ground. Shares ended Wednesday at €12.66, still 60% up on the start of 2021.

The results of a second UK trial, Cov-Compare, are expected next month, yet some of the 4,000 people who volunteered to take part in the study have reported feeling “left in limbo” by the decision by the UK government.

Participants are already at a disadvantage; although they are double-vaccinated against COVID-19, they have been refused access to the international vaccine passport as VLA2001 is not approved by the UK’s regulator, the MHRA. To compensate for this, Valneva has offered to pay for two PCR tests up to the cost of £100 each.

One trial volunteer, sustainability advisor Graeme English, said he was disappointed by the UK withdrawal from the vaccine deal. “The Government blankly pulling out of a thing that has a lot of potential is disappointing to hear.” Left in limbo, he is now considering getting “a mainstream vaccination”.

However, in a letter to participants, Valneva reiterated its position that it expects to receive MHRA approval before the end of the year.

Article by
Hugh Gosling

16th September 2021

From: Sales, Marketing

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