Coronavirus: Commission concludes exploratory talks with Valneva to secure a new potential vaccine

(Credit: Unsplash)

This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.


Today, the European Commission concluded exploratory talks with the pharmaceutical company Valneva with a view to purchasing its potential vaccine against COVID-19. The envisaged contract with Valneva would provide for the possibility for all EU Member States to purchase together 30 million doses, and they could further purchase up to 30 million more doses.

Today’s finalisation of exploratory talks with Valneva come in addition to an already secured broad portfolio of vaccines to be produced in Europe, including the contracts already signed with AstraZeneca, Sanofi-GSK, Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, BioNtech-Pfizer, CureVac, and Moderna and exploratory talks concluded with Novavax. This diversified vaccines portfolio will ensure Europe is well prepared for vaccination, once the vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective, as is already the case for BioNTech/Pfizer and Moderna, recently authorised in the EU. Member States are able to donate vaccines to lower and middle-income countries or to re-direct it to other European countries.

President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said: “The continuing COVID-19 pandemic in Europe and around the globe makes it more important than ever that all Member States have access to the broadest possible portfolio of vaccines to help protect people in Europe and beyond. Today’s step toward reaching an agreement with Valneva further complements the EU’s vaccines portfolio and demonstrates the Commission’s commitment to find a lasting solution to the pandemic.”

Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, said: “With this eighth vaccine, we are adding to our already broad and diversified range of vaccines in our portfolio. By doing this, we can maximise our chances of making sure that all citizens can have access to safe and effective of vaccinations by the end of 2021. All Member States have now started their vaccination campaigns and will start receiving an increasing number of doses in order to cover all their needs during this year.”

Valneva is a European biotechnology company developing an inactivated virus vaccine. This is a traditional vaccine technology, used for 60-70 years, with established methods and a high level of safety. Most of the influenza vaccines and many childhood vaccines use this technology. This is currently the only inactivated vaccine candidate in clinical trials against COVID-19 in Europe.

The Commission, with the support of EU Member States, has taken a decision to support this vaccine based on a sound scientific assessment, the technology used, the company’s experience in vaccine development and its production capacity to supply all EU Member States.

Background

The European Commission presented on 17 June a European strategy to accelerate the development, manufacturing and deployment of effective and safe vaccines against COVID-19. In return for the right to buy a specified number of vaccine doses in a given timeframe, the Commission finances part of the upfront costs faced by vaccines producers in the form of Advance Purchase Agreements. Funding provided is considered as a down-payment on the vaccines that will actually be purchased by Member States.

Since the high cost and high failure rate make investing in a COVID-19 vaccine a high-risk decision for vaccine developers, these agreements will therefore allow investments to be made that otherwise might not happen.

Once vaccines have been proven to be safe and effective and have been granted market authorisation by the European Medicines Agency, they need to be quickly distributed and deployed across Europe. On 15 October, the Commission set out the key steps that Member States need to take to be fully prepared, which includes the development of national vaccination strategies. The Commission is putting in place a common reporting framework and a platform to monitor the effectiveness of national vaccine strategies and has adopted further actions  to reinforce preparedness and response measures across the EU and a strategy on staying safe from COVID-19 during winter offering further support to Member States in the deployment of vaccines.

The Commission is also committed to ensuring that everyone who needs a vaccine gets it, anywhere in the world and not only at home. No one will be safe until everyone is safe. This is why it has raised almost €16 billion since 4 May 2020 under the Coronavirus Global Response, the global action for universal access to tests, treatments and vaccines against coronavirus and for the global recovery and has confirmed its interest to participate in the COVAX Facility for equitable access to affordable COVID-19 vaccines everywhere. As part of a Team Europe effort, the Commission announced is contributing with €400 million in guarantees an additional €100 million in grant funding to support COVAX Facility and its objectives in the context of the Coronavirus Global Response. This €500 million from the EU budget combined with contributions from EU Member States and the EIB will be a key contribution for the COVAX Facility to ensure over one billion vaccine doses will be made available to people in low- and middle-income countries by the end of 2021.

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