“This is very good news, we are very happy”, welcomes Franck Grimaud, CEO of Valneva. A month after the surprise termination by the British government of an order for 100 million doses, the Franco-Austrian laboratory unveiled, Monday, October 18, initial phase 3 results “Positive” for its candidate vaccine against Covid-19.
The clinical trial, carried out on around 4,000 adults in the United Kingdom, and which compared the vaccine from biotech from Saint-Herblain (Loire-Atlantique) to that from the British laboratory AstraZeneca, “Not only demonstrated a higher level of neutralizing antibody generation than that of the AstraZeneca vaccine, but also a statistically better safety profile, which makes it a vaccine that is both very effective and very safe”, explains Mr. Grimaud. According to the boss of biotech, these results are all the more satisfactory because they also demonstrate that his vaccine candidate, made from a Wuhan strain of the virus, also protects against the Delta variant, which is now dominant.
No firm contract
A relief for Franco-Austrian society after the hammer blow inflicted by the United Kingdom. In mid-September, London had abruptly ended, – without specifying its reasons -, its contract with Valneva, breaking an agreement which was to represent up to 1.4 billion euros in sales for the laboratory, which had brought down the latter of more than 40% on the stock market. “Given the maturity of the British vaccination program − more than 80% of the population is now doubly vaccinated and a booster campaign is underway − delays in the delivery schedule that was agreed with Valneva are no longer aligned with the vaccination program ”, explained to World, a few days later, a British source familiar with the matter.
An episode now closed for biotech, even if negotiations are still underway on the terms of the divorce, in particular with regard to the future of the future vaccine production plant in Livingston (Scotland), which had been funded by the government British. The latter could prove particularly useful to Valneva in the event of large volumes of orders.
Because the laboratory, although it has no firm contract to date, hopes to take advantage of the good results announced on Monday to win orders. Discussions are underway with several states and institutions, including, among others, the European Commission – for several months – and the Covax program. “We also have a number of expressions of interest in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, North Africa, and South America,” notes M. Grimaud.
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