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Livingston-developed Covid vaccine starts UK clinical trials



Valneva has started UK clinical trials for its Covid-19 vaccine, currently being developed in Livingston, West Lothian.

The speciality vaccine company’s candidate will initially be tested on 150 UK volunteers at four National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) testing sites in Birmingham, Bristol, Newcastle and Southampton.

These early phase 1 and 2 trials will show whether the vaccine produces a safe and effective immune response against the virus.

Should this early trial prove successful, larger clinical trials will be planned for April 2021 with more than 4,000 UK volunteers testing two doses of the vaccine in two groups: those aged between 18-65 years and over 65s.

The UK government has already pre-ordered Valneva’s vaccine candidate, and should studies prove it to be safe and effective, 60 million doses could be made available to the UK by the end of 2021.

This milestone follows a multi-million-pound investment announced in August by the UK Government and Valneva to expand its Livingston facility. This supports more than 100 jobs for technicians and scientists at the site, while advancing Scotland’s vaccine manufacturing capacity.

Through this investment, if Valneva’s vaccine candidate proves successful, this permanent facility will potentially have the capacity to supply up to 250 million vaccine doses to the UK and internationally.

Valneva’s vaccine is the fifth to enter clinical trials in the UK, alongside Oxford/AstraZeneca, Imperial College London, Novavax and Janssen, whose studies are currently ongoing.

Secretary of state for Scotland Alister Jack MP said: “Today marks an important milestone not only in the UK’s fight against coronavirus but for the hundreds of staff at the Valneva facility in Livingston who have worked tirelessly over the last few months to develop this vaccine.”

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Valneva chief executive Thomas Lingelbach said: “Our teams have been working extremely hard to develop our differentiated vaccine candidate and I would like to thank them, as well as the UK government, for their dedication and support.

“While conducting our first clinical trials, we are already ramping-up our manufacturing capacities and commencing production at full-scale so that we can make the vaccine widely available across the world assuming the vaccine is safe and effective.”

Chief investigator for the Valneva study, professor Adam Finn, said: “We are really pleased to be initiating this first-in-man phase 1 study in Bristol and continuing it in several other centres across the country in the New Year.

“This is a more traditional vaccine design than those that have been in the news recently, consisting of the whole SARS CoV2 virus that has been chemically inactivated – this kind of viral vaccine has been in widespread use for 60 years.”

Through the Vaccines Taskforce, the UK has secured early access to 357 million doses of seven of the most promising vaccine candidates, including:

  • BioNTech/Pfizer – Phase III – 40 million doses secured
  • Oxford/Astra Zeneca – Phase III – 100 million doses secured
  • Moderna – Phase III – 7 million doses secured
  • Novavax – Phase III – 60 million doses secured
  • Janssen – Phase III – 30 million doses secured
  • GSK/Sanofi – Phase I / II – 60 million doses secured
  • Valneva – Phase I / II – 60 million doses secured, with an option to acquire a further 130 million if the vaccine is proven to be safe, effective and suitable
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