The UK Government has announced that it has scrapped a deal for 100 million Covid-19 vaccines from French manufacturer Valneva, with the company’s vaccine still in the clinical trial phase.
As part of the country’s rush to secure more than enough vaccine doses for the entire population, the UK Government struck vast quantity deals with a number of prospective Covid-19 vaccines, including the one being developed by Valneva.
After securing an initial 60 million doses, the UK expanded the order by 40 million in February to around 100 million doses on order.
As part of Valneva’s ongoing vaccine testing and development, a new manufacturing site was established in West Lothian, Scotland and had already begun work, including employing 250 people including scientists and lab technicians at the UK plant.
Any developed Valneva vaccine would still be subject to approval by UK regulators before it could be distributed to people outside of the parameters of the clinical trials.
Phase 3 trial results for the prospective vaccine are due to published later this year.
The order was cancelled after the UK Government served notice, citing suggestions of a breach of the contract agreement. Valneva strenuously denied these allegations in a public statement.
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."
Despite the scrapping of the UK order and reasons provided, Valneva is still hopeful to be granted initial approval for its vaccine at some stage in 2021, following the publication of the results of their ongoing Phase 3 clinical trials.
This approval would be issued by the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and stands an independent stage, which can occur irrespective of whether the UK has vaccine doses on order from the manufacturer.
The scrapping of the 100 million doses is not anticipated to affect any ongoing vaccine rollout plans in the UK, with a significant quantity of existing, approving Covid-19 vaccine doses already secured.
Scotland's Health Secretary Humza Yousaf was quoted as telling BBC Radio's Good Morning Scotland: "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."