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Valneva Covid vaccine: why has UK scrapped deal for coronavirus jab being made in Livingston, Scotland?

Valneva said it had received a termination notice from the UK Government in relation to the supply agreement for its Covid-19 vaccines

In September, the UK Government ended an agreement with French pharmaceutical company Valneva for its Covid-19 vaccination.

The Government served notice over allegations of a breach of the agreement, but the firm said it “strenuously” denies the allegations.

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But why has the UK government ended the deal with Valneva and how many vaccines had been ordered?

Here’s what you need to know.

Why has the UK government ended Covid vaccine deal with Valneva?

In a statement, Valneva said it had received a termination notice from the UK Government (HMG) in relation to the supply agreement for its Covid-19 vaccines.

Valneva said the contract provides the Government “with the right to terminate” and that it has “alleged that the company is in breach of its obligations under the supply agreement, but the company strenuously denies this.”

The company said the vaccine candidate is currently in Phase 3 trials, with results due in the fourth quarter.

“Subject to these data and MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) approval, Valneva believes that initial approval for VLA2001 could be granted in late 2021”, the company said.

It added: “Valneva has worked tirelessly, and to its best efforts, on the collaboration with HMG including investing significant resources and effort to respond to HMG’s requests for variant-derived vaccines.

“Valneva continues to be committed to the development of VLA2001 and will increase its efforts with other potential customers to ensure that its inactivated vaccine can be used in the fight against the pandemic.”

Although the vaccine deal was scrapped last month, Valneva has reported positive results from its Covid-19 trial.

In new phase three results reported on Monday 18 October, the Valneva vaccine showed around 40% higher neutralising antibody titer levels compared with the vaccine from AstraZeneca in a head-to-head trial, and also had fewer side-effects.

The company also said its vaccine – VLA2001 – induced broad T-cell responses, a part of the immune system which is believed to be involved in long-term immunity.

Adam Finn, professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol and trial chief investigator, told a briefing that the figure for the vaccine’s efficacy would come when the jab is used in the population.

How many Valneva vaccines had been ordered?

Some 100 million doses of the Covid vaccine - which is being manufactured at a site in Livingston, Scotland - were put on order after the UK increased its request by 40 million in February.

Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said the announcement is a “blow” for the West Lothian facility.

He told BBC Good Morning Scotland: “We are very keen, and will be reaching out to the company, to try to get security and secure a future for that facility in Livingston; we hope that would be with Valneva.

“Clearly, when it comes to their supposed alleged failure to meet their contract obligations, we obviously are looking for more information from the UK Government and would expect that shortly.”

The Health Secretary added that there is enough vaccine supply for a potential booster campaign, despite the termination of the Valneva contract.

Which vaccines are approved for use in the UK?

The Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna Covid vaccines have all been approved for use by the MHRA and are currently being administered.

The Janssen jab has also been approved for use in the UK.

Sor far, more than 48 million people have received their first dose of the Covid jab, with more than 43 million having received both doses of the vaccine.