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UK terminates COVID-19 vaccine contract with Valneva over alleged breach of obligation

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By Alice Tidey
The headqaurters of French vaccine startup Valneva in Saint-Herblain, France, Feb.3, 2021.
The headqaurters of French vaccine startup Valneva in Saint-Herblain, France, Feb.3, 2021.   -   Copyright  AP Photo/David Vincent

The UK government has terminated its COVID-19 vaccine contract with Valneva over an alleged breach in obligations, the company announced on Monday.

The French biotech company said in a statement that it "has received a termination notice from the UK government ("HMG") in relation to the Supply Agreement for its OVID-19 vaccine candidate".

"HMG has alleged that the Company is in breach of its obligations under the Supply Agreement, but the Company strenuously denies this," it added.

Euronews has contacted Britain's Department of Health for comment.

Britain has ordered 100 million doses of Valneva's vaccine candidate, VLA2001, and had an option to secure an additional 90 million doses. The total value of these 190 million doses is around €1.4 billion.

The jab is currently in Phase 3 — meaning it is being tested for efficiency on thousands of people — with results expected to be available early in the fourth quarter. A commercialisation is therefore planned before the end of the year.

The company commenced rolling submission of its vaccine data for approval to the UK's Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) last month and production of the vaccine started earlier in the year at a manufacturing plant in Scotland "to optimise the timeline for potential deliveries of the vaccine."

VLA2001 is an inactivated, adjuvanted vaccine that consists of inactivated whole virus particles of SARS-CoV-2 mixed with two adjuvants to boost antibody levels. According to the company, the vaccine is expected to conform with standard cold chain requirements (2 to 8°C).

The UK regulator has so far approved four jabs from Oxford/AstraZeneca, Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna and Janssen.

More than 89% of the UK's population aged over 16 has so far received at least one dose of a vaccine and 80.9% is fully inoculated.