Valneva scraps talks with EU bosses wanting to buy its Covid vaccine in another blow to the bloc’s shambolic jab roll-out

  • Valneva’s EU talks have crumbled and it will do orders with individual countries
  • French pharmaceutical company is set to manufactures its jabs in Scotland
  • It is currently in Phase 3 trials and UK has order 100million doses this year 

Valneva has pulled out of talks with EU bosses who wanted to buy its Covid vaccine, in another blow to the bloc’s shambolic roll-out.

The French pharmaceutical firm, set to manufacture its jabs in Scotland, will instead prioritise securing deals with individual countries.

Chief executive Thomas Lingelbach said the company had not made ‘any meaningful progress’ with Brussels, despite committing ‘significant time and effort’ into meeting their ‘needs’.  

It is another blow for the EU’s chaotic inoculation drive, which is massively lagging behind the UK’s. Just 19.4 per cent of adults have been vaccinated in the bloc — compared to around 60 per cent in Britain.

The claims come as sources today said the European Commission is working on legal proceedings against AstraZeneca, after the drugmaker cut vaccine deliveries to the union.

AstraZeneca promised to deliver 100million doses by the end of March but only managed to send 30million. 

During the height of the row, the EU threatened to block exports of AztraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines made on the continent to the UK. 

Over the past few months, EU countries have flip-flopped on using the firm’s vaccine because of the risk of ultra-rare brain blood clots. 

The union also had to temporarily pause the roll-out of Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine because of the same concerns. It is now being administered after the regulator ruled it safe.

Moderna — the other company who’s jabs Ursula von der Leyen and EU bosses ordered — has also warned of supply challenges.

Problems at its European manufacturing plant mean planned deliveries to the UK, Canada and elsewhere will be affected. 

The bloc ordered 100million new doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine this week to cope with its lack of supply — but it is not confirmed when the jabs will arrive. 

In the latest blow, Valneva has now said it will ‘deprioritise’ order talks with the EU and will instead work with nations on a ‘country by country basis’.

Britain has already secured 100million doses of the firm’s jab, which has passed through Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials. Today the firm announced it would press ahead with the final-stage studies, which could see it being approved and rolled out by the end of the year. 

Valneva has pulled out of talks with the EU for its coronavirus vaccine in another blow to the bloc’s shambolic roll-out 

Valneva yesterday announced it had begun Phase 3 trials of its jab as it seeks approval in the UK and abroad

The European Commission is working on legal proceedings against AstraZeneca after the drugmaker cut vaccine deliveries to the union, sources revealed today. The company’s vaccine has been banned for all ages in Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands

The UK has already secured 100million doses of Valneva’s jab, which has passed through Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials

The firm’s boss Mr Lingelbach said: ‘We’ve committed significant time and effort to try to meet the needs of the central procurement process.

‘Despite our recent clinical data, we have not made meaningful progress. We are now concentrating our efforts on EU member states and interested parties outside the EU.’

Ms Von der Leyen has come under fire for the bungled negotiations, with Russian MEP Chirstian Terhes criticising the EU’s ‘wall of red tape and out of touch bureaucracy’.  

EU preparing case against AstraZeneca over vaccine shortfalls 

The European Commission is working on legal proceedings against AstraZeneca after the drugmaker cut COVID-19 vaccine deliveries to the European Union, according to sources familiar with the matter.

An EU official involved in talks with vaccine makers told Reuters on Thursday that a story by Politico on the matter was correct. ‘EU states have to decide if they (will) participate. It is about fulfillment of deliveries by the end of the second quarter.’

The Anglo-Swedish drugmaker has been under fire in the trading bloc for cutting supplies several times to levels much lower than promised, and potential legal action had been discussed previously.

There was no immediate response from AstraZeneca on Thursday to a request for comment.

Under its contract with the EU, the company had committed to delivering 180 million vaccine doses in the second quarter.

Chief Executive Pascal Soriot told a hearing of the EU parliament in February that he hoped to meet EU expectations on deliveries in that period.

Politico reported the latest possible legal action citing five unnamed European Union diplomats, adding that at a meeting of ambassadors on Wednesday a majority of EU countries said they would support suing the company.

He told The Sun: ‘Self-determining, fast and nimble national governments win the race every time, as the UK proved with its the vaccine rollout.’ 

Mr Terhes called for a ‘Bigger Europe but a Better Europe’ to reduce ‘endless bureaucracy’.

Valneva’s two-dose jab — which is already being manufactured in Scotland — is the first of its kind to be developed in the West and is an ‘inactivated whole virus vaccine’, meaning it works by injecting people with a destroyed version of the real coronavirus.

This allows the immune system to train itself to attack the actual virus, without the risk of it actually causing an infection. 

It comes as Valneva yesterday announced it had begun Phase 3 trials of its jab as it seeks approval in the UK and abroad.

The trial will compare the Valneva vaccine against AstraZeneca’s to determine its safety and effectiveness.

Previous trials have shown the jab is 90 per cent effective at reducing serious illness.

Adam Finn, chief investigator for the Valneva program and professor of paediatrics at the University of Bristol, said the vaccine will add another invaluable tool to the arsenal against Covid.

He said: ‘Following very encouraging safety and immune response results from our Phase 1/2 trial, along with my investigator colleagues, I am really looking forward to starting on this important next stage of the clinical development of this important new vaccine. 

‘We definitely need more vaccines to help us out of this pandemic and this one is a very promising candidate.’

The trial will look at the immune response of 4,000 participants two weeks after getting their second dose. 

It is being conducted in the UK with the support of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR).  

UK Minister for Covid-19 Vaccine Deployment Nadhim Zahawi said: ‘The UK has been at the forefront of cutting-edge innovation throughout this pandemic, with Valneva’s vaccine set to be made in Scotland, if approved. 

‘We have an incredible infrastructure in place for trialing these extraordinary medical advances, and I am delighted the UK will be home to another promising vaccine trial. 

‘I’ve taken part in a vaccine clinical trial myself and would urge all those thinking about signing up to go for it and to play a part in helping protect your loved ones and saving lives.’ 

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