The U.K. government has reportedly terminated the deal to purchase the COVID-19 vaccine from French specialty vaccine company Valneva. The contract termination stems from the alleged breach of the company’s obligations under the agreement. However, the French startup stated that it "strenuously denies" charges made by the U.K. government.
It is to be noted that about 100 million doses of the yet-to-be-approved vaccine were ordered after the U.K. boosted its request by 40 million doses in February.
Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf stated that this decision of the U.K. government would be a setback for the vaccine manufacturing facility in Livingston, west of Scotland.
Following the announcement, the company's stock plunged by 40%. Despite this, the company's stock is still up by roughly 50% since the start of 2021, sources cited.
VLA2001, the vaccine candidate from the pharmaceutical startup, uses an inactivated virus comparable to flu vaccines. Some believe it could win over those wary of current Pfizer and Moderna vaccines that use new mRNA technology.
The U.K. MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) has not yet approved the vaccine of the French company. VLA2001 was in phase 3 trials, and the results were due in the fourth quarter. Valneva also expressed that it would continue the development of its VLA2001, and it expects the initial approval for the vaccine could be granted later this year.
The nullification of the supply deal comes as U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is considered to be "dead focused" on avoiding another lockdown as he prepares to disclose his coronavirus vaccine plan for the autumn and winter.
Johnson is expected to conduct a press conference to discuss how vaccinations would be Britain's primary defense throughout the winter months.
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