By Caribbean News Global
LONDON, England – The UK government on Monday, February 1, 2021, announced that it signed a deal for a further 40 million doses of Valneva’s promising vaccine candidate. The latest deal will bolster long-term vaccine production in Scotland and brings the total UK vaccine portfolio to 407 million doses over the next two years.
Interim chair of the UK government’s Vaccines Taskforce Clive Dix, said: “Valneva’s manufacturing site in Scotland is already up and running, ready to supply their promising vaccine as soon as it has proven to be safe, and effective and is approved by the MHRA.
“To best ensure we have enough successful candidates to ensure maximum coverage of the UK population, the Vaccines Taskforce has invested in seven of the most promising vaccines. The further 40 million doses secured through today’s deal significantly bolsters our portfolio and gives us future flexibility should we need to revaccinate any of the UK population. I want to thank everyone involved in the development of this vaccine for the hard work that has helped us reach this point and also to pay tribute to those UK citizens who have volunteered to take part in the important clinical trials of this vaccine.”
If it is approved, 60 million doses could start to be delivered to the UK by the second half of 2021, with the remaining 40 million being delivered in 2022.
Valneva’s Livingston site will have the capacity to produce up to 250 million doses annually for shipment across the UK and around the world.
The UK government is committed to supporting equitable access to vaccines worldwide. The UK is the largest donor to the COVAX facility, the global mechanism to help developing countries access a coronavirus vaccine, and has committed £548 million in UK aid to help distribute 1.3 billion doses of coronavirus vaccines to 92 developing countries this year.
To date, the UK government has invested over £300 million into manufacturing a successful vaccine.
The Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack, said: “This deal is an endorsement of the UK Government’s strategy of investing in vaccine development and in the skills of the Scottish life sciences sector. I pay tribute to the team in Valneva’s new Livingston manufacturing plant. If the vaccine is authorised by the health regulator, their expertise will play an important role in making the world safer from this virus.”
According to the UK government, “the decision to purchase 40 million extra doses is based on the UK’s strategy to take a wide approach, using different technologies and viral targets to ensure the UK has the best chance of securing access to successful vaccines as quickly as possible. It will also give the UK future flexibility should we need to revaccinate any of the population. The UK government has invested a multi-million sum in Valneva’s manufacturing facility in West Lothian, which began manufacturing vaccine doses last week and is already raising Scotland’s profile in the international fight against COVID-19.”
The government press release, continued: “The site is already supporting 100 new highly-skilled local jobs for scientists and technicians,” added, “Valneva’s coronavirus vaccine candidate is currently in phase I/II trials and will still need to meet the necessary safety and effectiveness standards and receive regulatory approval from the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) before it is rolled out at the end of the year.”
However, if it is approved, manufacturing at risk now will mean that the UK can roll the vaccine out across the country quicker.
Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng, said: “This latest deal is yet another weapon in our national arsenal against this terrible disease, and will ensure we have sufficient supplies to protect the British public in 2021 and beyond. Backed with major investment from the UK government, Valneva’s site in Scotland will be a vaccine production powerhouse, working flat out to ensure we can quickly deploy jabs across the UK if their candidate is approved, while supporting top quality, local jobs.
“Thanks to our incredible UK Vaccine Taskforce, we have now secured a bumper portfolio of over 400 million vaccines, putting our country in an exceptionally strong position to defeat this virus once and for all.”
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi, said: “This deal provides a further boost to the UK’s already-strong vaccine portfolio, and I am enormously proud of all the work which has gone in to securing a vaccine for the UK as soon as possible. If approved, Valneva’s vaccine will not only help tackle COVID-19 here in the UK, but aid our mission to ensure there is a fair supply of vaccines across the globe. No one is safe till the whole world is safe.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock, said: “The UK has developed and invested in some of the world’s most promising vaccines – supporting global efforts to fight this virus. The Valneva vaccine showcases the best of Scottish expertise right at the heart of our UK vaccine endeavour, demonstrating the strength of our union and what the UK can achieve when it works together. If the vaccine is authorised by the health regulator, it will be rolled out across the four nations as quickly as possible.”