French snubbing AstraZeneca for new jab made in France – but its available in UK first

Covid: Study on vaccine effectiveness released in UK

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A new coronavirus vaccine is being produced by a French pharmaceutical company, and it is expected to have an efficacy of over 80 percent. The new jab named Valneva is expected to be ready at the end of the year with a technology that is different from the products already on the market.

The Franco-Austrian laboratory Valneva, whose trials for its candidate vaccine against COVID-19 are at an advanced stage, hopes to demonstrate “an efficacy of more than 80 percent”, announced its general manager Franck Grimaud on BFM Business.

“On the basis (…) of the phase I and II trials, we hope to have a vaccine which is effective in more than 80 percent of cases. It will have to be demonstrated in the phase III trial,” said Franck Grimaud.

The efficacy would therefore be lower than messenger RNA vaccines, such as those from Pfizer / BioNTech or Moderna, which are around 95 percent, but it would be higher than that of the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which are between 60 and 70 percent effective.

Some people in France are snubbing already available vaccines to wait for the new antidote, as suggested by the French boss of Sanofi, another French pharmaceutical company hoping to put its vaccine on the market this year, Olivier Bogillot.

In a message on LinkedIn, he said: “I hear some people say that they prefer to wait for the vaccine from Sanofi to be vaccinated. I thank those who trust Sanofi but, our vaccine will not arrive for several months.

“Waiting only increases the risk and prolongs the circulation of the virus.

“The vaccines authorised by the Health Authorities are safe and effective.”

Valneva uses a deactivated virus vaccine, a more traditional technology than RNA, and which is used in particular for influenza vaccines each year, said Franck Grimaud.

“There are many parameters to consider in a vaccine: efficacy, harmlessness, period of protection, duration between the first two doses and the need for a booster…” continued Franck Grimaud.

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The laboratory submitted its request for authorisation to the British health authorities on Monday. The United Kingdom has already ordered 100 million doses for 2021-2022, while discussions with the European Union “are still ongoing”, according to Franck Grimaud.

The CEO of Valneva believes that the fight against COVID-19 will probably require “regular vaccination” in the years to come.

“We will also have to vaccinate teenagers and children, and a vaccine like ours, with its safety profile, might be of interest,” he believes.

It also targets “a part of the population that is more hesitant about new vaccine technologies” as well as in countries where access to vaccines is still difficult.

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The Valneva vaccine has already been pre-ordered by the UK Government, with manufacturing taking place in Livingston, Scotland.

Reports suggest the UK has secured an order for 190 million doses over five years.

Delivery of the first 60 million of the 100 million doses ordered by the UK Government is scheduled to continue into the first quarter of next year, with the rest also due for delivery in 2022.

British authorities have options for a further 90 million doses to be delivered between 2023 and 2025 that would bring the total value of the order up to €1.4billion (£1.2bn).

However, in a blunder for the EU and France, no agreement has been reached with Valneva to deliver vaccine doses to the bloc.

Discussions started at the beginning of 2020 were aborted, on the grounds that “the French company had not fulfilled the conditions” for marketing in Europe.

In an interview in April, after Valneva had called off the talks, Chief Executive Officer Thomas Lingelbach said they had gone “in circles” without progress.

Valneva indicates on its site that discussions resumed with the European Commission in January, and are “still ongoing” in July 2021.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega

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