London: British authorities have authorised a coronavirus vaccine for adults made by French drugmaker Valneva, despite the government’s decision last year to cancel an order for at least 100 million doses.
The UK is the first country to authorise the vaccine, which is also under review by the European Medicines Agency. Britain’s medicines regulator said on Thursday the two-dose vaccine was intended for adults aged 18 to 50, with the second dose given about a month after the first. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said the shot met safety, quality and effectiveness standards.
A technician works at the Valneva lab in Austria.Credit:Bloomberg
The Valneva vaccine is made with the decades-old technology used to manufacture shots for flu and polio. It is the sixth COVID-19 vaccine the UK has cleared and the only one that utilises a “killed” virus – scientists grow the coronavirus in a lab and then inactivate it so it cannot replicate or infect cells.
The British government scrapped an agreement with Valneva in September to purchase at least 100 million doses, saying at the time that regulators probably would not clear the shot. Valneva said Britain cancelled the deal because of supply concerns.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid said then that he couldn’t go into details because of commercial issues but that the deal was spiked because “it was also clear to us that the vaccine in question that the company was developing would not get approval”.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on a visit to the new Valvena Scotland vaccine manufacturing plant in March. The company said it could supply up to 25,000 doses to the UK’s National Health Service and frontline workers in Scotland.Credit:Getty Images
Britain was an early backer of the Valneva vaccine, agreeing to invest millions of pounds in a production facility in Scotland. As part of the contract, the US had agreed to buy 100 million doses with options for another 90 million.
Even without the Valneva vaccine, the government has acquired more than enough doses to fully vaccinate everyone in the country twice. To date, about 73 per cent of the population having had two doses and nearly 60 per cent has received three doses.
The company said it was in discussions to supply up to 25,000 doses to the UK’s National Health Service and frontline workers in Scotland.
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