The UK Government has ordered a further 40 million doses of the Covid vaccine developed by French biotech company Valneva – which has begun manufacturing at its plant in Scotland.
The UK had previously ordered 60 million doses of the vaccine, with the first part of the order expected by the second half of this year, subject to the vaccine proving safe and effective.
The remaining 40 million doses are due for delivery in 2022 and the deal will give the UK ‘future flexibility’ if there is a need to revaccinate people, the Government said.
Valneva’s Covid-19 vaccine candidate is currently in phase I/II trials, and will need approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) before becoming part of the UK vaccination programme.
The company’s manufacturing facility, which has received Government funding, is based in West Lothian, Scotland, and began manufacturing vaccine doses last week.
It will have the capacity to produce up to 250 million doses each year for shipment across the UK and internationally, the Government’s statement said.
It added: ‘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.’
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.’
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.’
The UK Government has invested over £300m into manufacturing a successful vaccine.
It has now ordered 407 million doses from a wide range of vaccine suppliers, including: