UK scraps Covid-19 vaccine deal with French firm Valneva
French vaccine maker Valneva says the UK government has scrapped a deal for its Covid-19 vaccine.
The UK had about 100 million doses on order, after it increased its request by 40 million in February.
The company said in a statement that the UK government served notice over allegations of a breach of the agreement, which it “strenuously denies”.
Valneva’s jab is still being tested in trials.
Although regulators must be satisfied before the rollout of any vaccine, manufacturing at a site in West Lothian, Scotland, had already started.
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“We have enough supply even for a booster programme. I want to give absolute confidence to anyone listening that we have the supplies necessary to continue to vaccinate and particularly with a booster programme on the horizon.”
In a statement on its website, Valneva said: “Valneva SE, a specialty vaccine company, today announced that it has received a termination notice from the UK Government (HMG) in relation to the Supply Agreement for its Covid-19 vaccine candidate, VLA2001.
“The contract provides HMG with the right to terminate. HMG has alleged that the company is in breach of its obligations under the supply agreement, but the company strenuously denies this.”
The firm said on Monday that results from its phase three trials were due later this year.
It added: “Valneva has worked tirelessly, and to its best efforts, on the collaboration with HMG including investing significant resources and effort to respond to HMG’s requests for variant-derived vaccines.”
The company hopes that, dependent on the results of its continuing trials and sign-off from the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, initial approval could still be granted in 2021.
Speaking to BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland, Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf insisted that the Covid-19 vaccine roll-out would not be affected by the cancellation of the contract.
“We have enough supply even for a booster programme. I want to give absolute confidence to anyone listening that we have the supplies necessary to continue to vaccinate and particularly with a booster programme on the horizon,” he said.
Mr Yousaf said that while the announcement would be a big set-back for the Livingston plant, he would speak to Valneva to discuss its future.
Valneva said on Monday that it would also look to other potential customers to ensure that the vaccines can still be used in the fight against the pandemic.
The Scottish Health Secretary added that he was waiting for further information from the UK government over Valneva’s alleged failure to meet the terms of its contract.
The Department for Health did not immediately respond to the BBC’s request for comment.