‘Leading the revolution’ Boris hails Valeva vaccine breakthrough as UK ‘outflanks’ Europe

COVID vaccine: Variants that beat jabs 'will appear' says expert

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Final trials are set to begin on the Valneva coronavirus vaccine, which has been developed and manufactured at the French company’s site in Livingston, West Lothian. The vaccine is unique because it is the only inactivated, adjuvanted (an ingredient to create a stronger immune response) COVID-19 vaccine in clinical development in Europe.

Inactivated vaccines have been used over the last 100 years to vaccinate billions of people – including for seasonal flu, hepatitis A, polio and rabies.

The French company is set provide up to 250 million vaccine doses to the UK and other countries around the world, if the jab is proven to be safe and effective.

As part of the UK Government’s vaccine procurement, up to 100 million doses have been secured by Prime Minister Boris Johnson following a visit to the plant last month.

Thomas Lingelbach, chief executive officer of Valneva, said: “As COVID-19 continues to impact people’s daily lives, Valneva remains fully focused on developing another safe and efficacious vaccine solution.

“The world needs multiple vaccines and we believe that ours has an important role to play – including boosters or potential modifications to address variants.

“The initiation of this trial marks a significant milestone in the development of the only inactivated vaccine candidate against COVID-19 in clinical trials in Europe.”

Professor Adam Finn, chief investigator for the Valneva study, said: “We definitely need more vaccines to help us out of this pandemic and this one is a very promising candidate.”

After positive safety and immunogenicity study results from the first two phases of the trial, which showed the study vaccine dose was “well tolerated with no safety concerns identified”, recruitment to the final phase two/three-stage of the study will start in the final week of April.

The study will run across 22 National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) sites in England, and two devolved administration sites in Scotland.

It is open to healthy adults who have not had a previous COVID-19 vaccine.

But unlike previous COVID-19 vaccine trials, those over 30 who participate will not be given a placebo and will instead receive either two doses of the Valneva candidate, or two doses of the approved Oxford/AstraZeneca jab.

If the trials are successful, Valneva aims to make regulatory submissions for initial approval in autumn this year with the jab set to be in circulation later this year.

Whitehall officials said the commencement of the trials shows the strength of vaccine production in the UK after the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine was developed last year. 

A senior UK Government source told Express.co.uk: “This news is really positive for the UK’s vaccine reputation, a jab produced and developed in the UK. 

“We are certainly leading the coronavirus vaccine revolution.”

They added the UK was clearly “outflanking Europe” with vaccine production and rollout, adding: “It’s going extremely well, everyone is really impressed.”

As the Valnava trials commence, more than 500,000 people in England are being invited to book their COVID-19 jab from today as the vaccine rollout opens to 44-year-olds.

Two-thirds of the previous age group, 45 to 49-year-olds had received their first dose.

Boris Johnson said the vaccination programme showed how strong the UK was together at tackling coronavirus whilst taking a swipe at EU countries rollout which has struggled in recent weeks.

Speaking during a visit to Wrexham today, he said: “If you look at the vaccination programme, mass testing conducted by the NHS, by the army, you can see the whole of the UK working together to beat the pandemic and we’re starting to get some very encouraging results.

“And we’re starting to get some very encouraging results.

“If you look at some of our friends, they’ve still got some pretty nasty waves elsewhere around Europe. 

“We’ve got nothing to be complacent about, but it’s certainly working well at the moment.”

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was “great news” at being able to open up jabs to 44-year-olds came after “a huge few days for vaccinations”. 

Mr Hancock added: “We’ll keep working down the age range to make sure everybody can have the offer of a jab by the end of July – all adults.”

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