Valneva is currently developing Europe’s only inactivated and adjuvanted vaccine against Covid-19. In the United Kingdom, VLA2001 can now be used in people aged 18 to 50, with an interval of at least 28 days between the two shots. It can be stored in a refrigerator and uses two inactivated particles of the SARS-COV-2 virus with high S-protein density, adjuvanted with alum and CpG 1018.
“This technology has been used for decades and is widely known to be safe. It should help to improve the vaccination rate, says Franck Grimaud, Managing Director of Valneva. A lot of people have said that they would get vaccinated if an inactivated vaccine were available.” Some three to four million people in France and 10 million in Germany are refusing to take the five other vaccines currently approved for use in Europe. VLA2001 would therefore be a potential alternative.
The United Kingdom supported its development from the outset. In spring 2020, substantial subsidies or loans were granted to conduct all the clinical trials and build a second manufacturing facility in Livingston, Scotland, close to the first factory purchased by Valneva (Intercell at the time) in 2006. The British government originally ordered 100 million doses per year but canceled that order in September 2021.
The second factory is currently under construction and could ultimately have a top production capacity of 100 million doses. Scotland may place an order, but nothing has been finalized yet.
“The fact that a serious and reputable organization like the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) has authorized our vaccine proves that the data we provided is convincing enough to warrant approval. It really speaks to its quality,” says Franck Grimaud, Managing Director of Valneva.
The vaccine is currently under evaluation by the European Medicines Agency. Valneva replied to a further list of questions in early May and, if the answers are approved, it could obtain marketing authorization in the second quarter of 2022. In November 2021, the European Commission ordered 60 million doses at a cost of €15 to €22 per unit; 24 million are to be delivered in 2022 and the rest by 2023.
Although supply currently exceeds demand, Valneva is optimistic about sales. “By 2024, groups of pharmacies and clinics could purchase Covid-19 vaccines directly from the manufacturer, like they do the flu vaccine,” explains Grimaud.