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EU approves contract with Valneva to secure ‘traditional’ vaccine

file photo: the logo of valneva se is pictured at the company's headquarters in saint herblain
FILE PHOTO: of Valneva SE at the company's headquarters in Saint-Herblain, near Nantes

On Wednesday, the European Commission approved the eighth contract with a pharmaceutical company with a view to purchasing its potential vaccine against Covid-19.

Valneva is a European biotechnology company developing an inactivated virus vaccine, made of the live virus through chemical inactivation. This is a traditional vaccine technology, used for 60-70 years, with established methods and high level of safety. Most of the flu vaccines and many childhood vaccines use this technology.

This is currently the only inactivated vaccine candidate in clinical trials against Covid-19 in Europe.

The Commission, with the support of EU Member States, has taken a decision to support this vaccine based on a sound scientific assessment, the technology used, the company’s experience in vaccine development and its production capacity to supply all EU Member States.

The contract with Valneva provides for the possibility for all EU Member States to purchase almost 27 million doses in 2022. It also includes the possibility to adapt the vaccine to new variant strains, and for Member States to make a further order of up to 33 million additional vaccines in 2023.

The contract with Valneva comes in addition to an already secured broad portfolio of vaccines to be produced in Europe, including the contracts already signed with AstraZenecaSanofi-GSKJanssen Pharmaceutica NVBioNtech-Pfizer, CureVacModerna, and Novavax. “This diversified vaccines portfolio will ensure Europe is well prepared for vaccination, once the vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective.  Member States could decide to donate the vaccine to lower and middle-income countries or to re-direct it to other European countries,” the Commission said

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “The contract allows for the vaccine to be adapted to new variants. Our broad portfolio will help us to fight COVID and its variants in Europe and beyond. The pandemic is not over. Everyone who can should get vaccinated.”

Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “Our EU Vaccines Strategy continues to deliver, at a time when COVID-19 case numbers are unfortunately rising again across the EU. The Valneva vaccine adds another option to our broad portfolio, once it is proven to be safe and effective by the European Medicines Agency. We continue to support Member States in their vaccination efforts, and the message remains the same: trust the science, and vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate.”

Valneva saw it shares jump more than 20 per cent after the announcement.

Valneva is hoping its candidate, which uses more traditional technology than the mRNA vaccines, could be a more reassuring option for Europeans still reluctant to be immunised.

It said last month that it demonstrated efficacy “at least as good, if not better” than AstraZeneca’s shot in a late-stage trial comparing the two, with significantly fewer adverse side effects.

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