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EU concludes exploratory talks with Valneva to secure a new potential vaccine

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BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union said on Tuesday it had concluded exploratory talks with the French drugmaker Valneva for the supply of up to 60 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate.

Valneva is the eighth pharmaceutical firm with which the EU has said it is in talks to buy COVID-19 vaccines. It has already signed contracts with six companies, securing nearly 2.3 billion doses.

“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,” the EU Commission said in a statement, confirming earlier Reuters reports.

Valneva has not yet begun large-scale Phase III clinical trials for its candidate, which is based on an inactivated virus and is, like other leading candidates, expected to need a two-dose regimen.

Under the deal, the EU committed to giving the company an undisclosed, non-refundable down payment to secure doses. The remainder would be paid by EU governments willing to buy the shot if the vaccine is approved in Europe.

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.

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