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Government invests in vaccine manufacturing facility in Scotland

Image: Valneva

Deal with Valneva will secure UK access to 60 million doses of potential coronavirus vaccine

The UK government has confirmed a multimillion-pound deal with the biotech company Valneva to secure access to 60 million doses of its potential coronavirus vaccine.

The investment in the company’s facility in Livingston, West Lothian (pictured), could help supply up to 100 million doses if the Valneva vaccine is shown to be effective. Its vaccine candidate VLA2001 is based on an inactivated whole virus.

“The multimillion-pound upfront investment we have agreed with Valneva today means that their vaccine can be manufactured in quantity right here in Scotland,” said business secretary Alok Sharma.

A government spokesperson told Research Professional News that the exact amount it is investing is  “commercially sensitive” and so could not be disclosed at this time.

The investment is expected to boost the number of employees at the facility from 100 to 175 when production gets underway.

Kate Bingham, chair of the UK Vaccine Taskforce, said: “In order to vaccinate our high-risk populations at the earliest opportunity, the government has agreed to proactively manufacture vaccines now, so we have millions of doses of vaccine ready if they are shown to be safe and effective.

“This important investment in Valneva’s Scottish manufacturing plant will not only help us with this but also ensures we are well placed as a country to be able to cope with any pandemics or health crises in the future.”

The announcement is the latest in a series of investments aimed at securing UK access to a Covid-19 vaccine. The UK government previously signed a deal with pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford to research, develop and manufacture 100 million doses of their Covid-19 vaccine candidate.

In addition, it has agreed a deal with biotechnology company BioNTech and pharmaceutical giant Pfizer for 30 million doses if their trials are successful, as well as with pharmaceutical companies Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline for up to 60 million doses of their vaccine.

The four different vaccine classes that the government has secured to date for the UK are:

  • Adenovirus vaccines (Oxford/AstraZeneca)
  • mRNA vaccines (BioNTech/Pfizer and Imperial College London)
  • Inactivated whole virus vaccines (Valneva)
  • Protein-based, adjuvant vaccines (GlaxoSmithKline/Sanofi)

Separately, the government has invested in the Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre in Oxfordshire, which is set to be completed by summer 2021, and in another vaccine candidate being developed by researchers at Imperial College London.