Regulators in the United Kingdom have approved the use of a new Covid vaccine. Valneva makes it using more traditional technology, similar to how polio and flu vaccines are made.
It contains a complete copy of the virus that has been rendered inactive, meaning it cannot cause disease but can teach the body how to fight it.
The UK was supposed to receive 100 million doses of the vaccine, but the deal was cancelled in September due to a “breach of obligations” by the government. The French firm categorically denied the government’s allegations.
The approval came after “a rigorous review of the safety, quality and effectiveness of this vaccine” according to Dr June Raine, chief executive of the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency.
It’s designed to be given in two doses, just like the AstraZeneca and Pfizer vaccines. The review was led by Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed of the Commission on Human Medicines, who said: “The benefit-risk balance is positive, as we have advised. The vaccine is recommended for people ages 18 to 50, with the first and second doses separated by at least 28 days.”
Valneva, which has a factory in Livingston near Edinburgh, developed the vaccine, which is the sixth Covid-19 vaccine to receive MHRA approval. Blood samples from volunteers who received the vaccine showed high levels of neutralizing antibodies against the pandemic virus in clinical trials.
In head-to-head tests, it outperformed the AstraZeneca vaccine on this metric.
Experts believe that using the entire virus rather than just the spike protein could make the vaccine more effective against future Covid variants.
“On behalf of all the participants in the clinical trials which underpinned this authorisation, which were conducted in the UK, and all of the clinical and laboratory teams involved, I’d like to express our delight that this vaccine has now been approved. ” said Prof Adam Finn, who led the trials.
In the ongoing global effort to combat the pandemic, this vaccine will play a critical role.”
The Moderna Covid vaccine has also been approved by the MHRA for children aged 6 to 11.