PHARMACEUTICAL firm Valneva is in “advanced discussions” with Scottish Enterprise over a multi-million pound deal which would see its Covid vaccines manufactured in Scotland.
Valneva paused development of its Livingston production plant earlier this year after the UK Government terminated a contract for 100 million doses of its Covid vaccines.
The firm is continuing to try to reach “an amicable resolution” with the UK Government, but said it has since engaged in a “highly constructive dialogue” with Scottish Enterprise.
It is now poised to agree a deal which would see both Valneva and Scottish Enterprise invest in the Livingston site.
It said Scottish Enterprise “would contribute through a series of grants totalling £10-20 million” to enable Valneva to commence production at the plant.
Negotiations also include agreements for the company to supply Scotland with its VLA2001 Covid vaccine in future, subject to regulatory approval, and commitments to jobs for the future in Livingston.
Valneva would also make up to 25,000 doses of the vaccine available for primary immunisation, free of charge, to NHS and frontline workers in Scotland.
Earlier this month, former UK vaccine taskforce chief Dame Kate Bingham told MPs today that Westminster’s decision to cancel the Valneva contract was “short-sighted” and may hinder the country’s resilience to future outbreaks.
Speaking at a meeting of the Science and Technology Committee, Dame Kate said the Valneva site in Livingston had “a whole-virus based manufacturing capability”, adding: “One of the things that we were keen to do was to make sure the UK has flexible, state-of-the-art manufacturing capability to deal with whatever potential current or future pandemic virus comes along.
“And so by cancelling the contract, that means we lose that capability.”
Valneva’s Covid vaccine is currently the only whole virus, inactivated, adjuvanted vaccine candidate in clinical trials in Europe.
It is intended for active immunisation of at-risk populations and potentially later for routine vaccination, including addressing new variants. It may also be suitable for use as a booster.
David Lawrence, Acting Chief Financial Officer, said “Subject to regulatory approval we want to make VLA2001 available to people who need it, as soon as we can.
“We already have some vaccine stock available for distribution, upon approval. T
“he grant will be very welcome and, subject to contract, will ensure that Livingston becomes a strategic vaccine manufacturing site for the future, successfully completing the work we began with [the UK Government].”
Ivan McKee, Scottish Government Minister for Business, Trade, Tourism and Enterprise, said: “Ministers and Scottish Enterprise are in advanced discussions with the company to agree a package of support which would underpin the company’s operations in Scotland.”
Hannah Bardell, MP for Livingston, added: “I am delighted that the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise have listened to my constituency colleagues and I by agreeing to invest in Valneva’s vaccine manufacturing site in Livingston.
“This funding will enable Valneva to complete its expansion, boosting vital production capacity and protecting skilled jobs.”