Vaccine firm Valneva seeks apology over Javid comments
French vaccine maker Valneva is seeking an apology from the UK government for casting doubt on whether its Covid jab would get approval.
Valneva said it would not rule out seeking “legal recourse” for loss of earnings and damages.
The UK government had about 100 million doses of Valneva’s vaccine on order before it dropped the deal in September.
The vaccine would have been produced in Livingston, West Lothian.
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid told the House of Commons that the vaccine would not have gained UK regulatory approval.
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“That apology would help many potential customers understand he made a mistake and
there was nothing wrong with our vaccine.”
Valneva’s chief financial officer David Lawrence told BBC Radio Scotland’s Drivetime that Mr Javid’s comments had a devastating impact on the business.
“We had to do a lot of work to rebuild and restore confidence in the vaccine” he said.
He said Mr Javid’s comments were “very clearly wrong” and “we’d love to hear an apology from him.”
On Wednesday, the European Commission agreed a contract to supply up to 60 million doses of the Valneva jab, subject to approval by the European Medicines Agency.
Mr Javid’s addressed parliament the day after the UK vaccine deal was scrapped, which Valneva said could have been worth up to £1.2bn. Valneva’s share price dropped 35% at the time.
Mr Javid said it was “clear to us that the vaccine in question that the company was developing would not get approval by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency here in the UK”.
However, he later amended his comments in the parliament’s official record to say that Valneva’s vaccine had not yet got and may not get approval.
Mr Lawrence acknowledged that Mr Javid had later corrected himself, but said the damage he did to the company was “significant”.
The results of Valneva’s clinical trial have since been published. Mr Lawrence described them as “absolutely phenomenal”.
He added: “Our clinical data wasn’t ready and available at that time, and we’ve since reported it to show that our vaccine looks great.
“That apology would help many potential customers understand he made a mistake and there was nothing wrong with our vaccine.”
Mr Lawrence said Valneva was still seeking an amicable resolution with the UK government.
But he added: “As to legal recourse, we haven’t ruled out any of our options yet.”
The Valneva vaccine uses inactivated Covid-19 virus in a similar way to flu vaccines, and is seen by some as having the potential to win over people wary of vaccines that use new technology.
Trial results suggested those who received the Valneva jab had high levels of neutralising antibodies against Covid – with the jab outperforming the AstraZeneca vaccine on this measure in head-to-head tests.
Valneva has also met Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. Mr Lawrence said it was with a view to supplying doses directly to Scotland in the future.
The Scottish government has said it would continue to engage with Valneva on a regular basis
A spokeswoman added: “We will consider using any vaccine approved by the regulatory bodies.”
The UK government has been approached for comment.