UK orders 40m more doses of Valneva's vaccine taking total to 100m

UK orders 40million more doses of Valneva’s Covid vaccine taking total order to 100MILLION after French firm started manufacturing in Scotland last week

  • Britain now has more than 400million vaccine doses order – enough for six each
  • Valneva’s jab is still in clinical trials and not expected until much later this year
  • But it is being manufactured in Scotland meaning logistics should be simple 

The UK Government has ordered an extra 40million doses of Valneva’s coronavirus vaccine, taking its total to 100million doses.

Still in clinical trials, the two-dose jab isn’t expected to be delivered until the second half of 2021 but it is already being manufactured in Livingston, Scotland.

It’s likely that most or all adults in Britain will already have had one of the other Covid vaccines by the time this one is ready. But infectious disease experts say people may need re-vaccinating in future and the UK may also export to other countries.

Britain has now ordered a total of 407million doses of Covid vaccines – enough to give the entire population, including children, six doses each. 

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng claimed the stockpile was enough to ‘protect the British public in 2021 and beyond’. 

The jab is the first of its kind to be developed in the West and is an ‘inactivated whole virus vaccine’, meaning it works by injecting people with a destroyed version of the real coronavirus.

This allows the immune system to train itself to attack the actual virus, without the risk of it actually causing an infection.

Valneva has already begun manufacturing its Covid-19 vaccine at its facility in Scotland even though the jab hasn’t finished clinical trials yet

The Government confirmed this morning that it had signed a deal to almost double its initial order for 60million doses of the jab.

It is not clear exactly why the Government has ordered the surplus, with its original order already enough to vaccinate half the country and the possibility of 200million more doses becoming available first.

The fact it is being manufactured in Scotland may have swayed the decision in the wake of a blazing row between the European Union and British firm AstraZeneca last week, which saw countries get protective over vaccine imports and exports.

Having a huge back-order of vaccines due to be manufactured in Britain would strengthen its position in the case of any international feuds in future.

Valneva is manufacturing the vaccine in Livingston, Scotland, where it expects to be able to make 250million doses per year when fully operational.

Of the UK’s doses, 60million are expected this year and the remaining 40m will be delivered next year, the Department of Health said. 

Every elderly care home resident across England has now been offered their first Covid vaccination, with Boris Johnson promising to continue the ‘acceleration’ of the programme across the country.

NHS England said people living at more than 10,000 eligible care homes with older residents had been offered the jab as almost 600,000 coronavirus vaccines were given out in Britain – a daily record.

Care home residents were the top priority group for the UK because they are most at risk of dying if they catch Covid-19. 

The Government will announce today that the care home milestone, which it promised to reach by the end of January, has been achieved in the nick of time.

A small number of homes had visits deferred for safety reasons during a local outbreak but would be visited as soon as it was safe for NHS staff to do so, a spokesman for NHS England said.

Nine in 10 people over 80 have received their first jab, along with three quarters of people aged 75 to 79, the figures show. People in their 60s are expected to start receiving invitations for jab in the next few weeks as the rollout continues to gather pace.

Care UK, one of the largest care home chains, said that all but one of its 124 homes had already been visited by vaccination teams. It said that about 85 per cent of residents had received the first dose of the vaccine but it was expecting the proportion to rise once it received updated figures.

The jab is being made ahead of time before clinical trials have proven how well it works, in order for supplies to be available as soon as possible when the study is complete. 

Results from its second phase of testing, usually done on a few thousand people to test immune system reactions and safety, are expected in April.

All the other vaccine candidates ordered by Britain have so far been successful, with efficacy rates in trials suggesting they are between 62 and 95 per cent effective at preventing Covid-19.

A total of nine million people have received the first dose of a jab so far.

And last week brought two huge boosts to the programme when Novavax and Janssen both revealed their vaccines had been successful in clinical trials.

Both are expected to submit trial results to the regulator, MHRA, in the coming weeks and could add another 90million doses to Britain’s catalogue.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: ‘This latest deal is yet another weapon in our national arsenal against this terrible disease, and will ensure we have sufficient supplies to protect the British public in 2021 and beyond.

‘Backed with major investment from the UK Government, Valneva’s site in Scotland will be a vaccine production powerhouse, working flat out to ensure we can quickly deploy jabs across the UK if their candidate is approved, while supporting top quality, local jobs.

‘Thanks to our incredible UK Vaccine Taskforce, we have now secured a bumper portfolio of over 400 million vaccines, putting our country in an exceptionally strong position to defeat this virus once and for all.’

By using an inactivated whole virus, the vaccine works by exposing the body to the coronavirus in a low-risk way so that it can work out how to attack it in case the person gets infected with the real virus in future.

When it sees the virus, the body can send white blood cells and proteins called antibodies to work out the specific response it needs to destroy it before illness develops.

If the virus was alive there is a risk it could spread too fast and get too deep into the body for the immune system to do this before the body could stop it.

A dead version, however, gives the immune system the same blueprint to mount its response – and remember it for the future – without the virus being able to multiply and outrun it. 

The technology is already used in vaccines to treat seasonal flu, hepatitis A, polio and rabies. 

None of this type have yet been developed for Covid in Europe, but jabs developed by Chinese companies Sinovac and Sinopharm, and India’s Bharat Biotech, which have all been approved for emergency use in their countries, are also inactivated vaccines.  

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘The Valneva vaccine showcases the best of Scottish expertise right at the heart of our UK vaccine endeavour, demonstrating the strength of our union and what the UK can achieve when it works together.

‘If the vaccine is authorised by the health regulator, it will be rolled out across the four nations as quickly as possible.’

If it is approved, 60million doses could start to be delivered to the UK by the second half of 2021.

WHICH COVID VACCINES WILL BRITAIN GET ITS HANDS ON? 

Pfizer/BioNTech (approved) 40million doses

The breakthrough jab was the first in the world to be proven to successfully block severe Covid-19 last year and it gained approval in the UK on December 2. 

Type: It uses brand-new technology and is known as a messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine. Conventional vaccines are produced using weakened forms of the virus, but mRNAs use only the virus’s genetic code to enters cells and tells them to create antigens, which make them look like the coronavirus.

Efficacy: Studies showed the two-dose vaccine could prevent severe illness in 95 per cent of people who were injected with it. 

How many? The Government has ordered 40million doses, enough to vaccinate 20million Brits, but only a handful of million Brits have received the jab so far. 

Oxford University/AstraZeneca (approved) — 100million doses  

Type: Oxford’s vaccine is made from a weakened version of a common cold virus known as adenovirus which is genetically engineered to carry the genetics needed to create ‘spike’ proteins that make cells look like the coronavirus.

Efficacy: It was shown to be about 70 per cent effective at blocking Covid-19. In early results this varied from 62 per cent in people who received the full two doses to 90 per cent in people who received 1.5, however scientists say the 62 per cent figure has improved since those results were published.

How many? The UK has ordered 100million doses.

Moderna (approved) — 17million doses ordered

Type: Moderna’s jab also uses mRNA technology and works in a similar way to the Pfizer one already being offered on the NHS.

Efficacy: It was found to have 95 per cent efficacy in clinical trials.

How many? Britain has ordered 17million doses but was late to the party because it didn’t want to bet on this as well as the Pfizer jab, because both are based on the same technology. The first doses are expected to arrive in March.  

Novavax (waiting approval) — 100million doses

Type: The Novavax vaccine works like other vaccines by teaching the immune system to make antibodies to the coronavirus spike protein. Researchers inserted a modified gene into a virus, called a baculovirus, and allowed it to infect insect cells. Spike proteins from these cells were then assembled into nanoparticles which, while they look like coronavirus, cannot replicate or cause Covid-19.

Efficacy: Novavax said the trials had shown its vaccine was 89.3 per cent effective at preventing Covid-19.

How many? Under a deal with the Government, 60million doses of the vaccine will be produced on Teesside for use in this country. 

Janssen/Johnson and Johnson (waiting approval) — 30million doses 

Type: The jab uses the same adenovirus technology as the Oxford University vaccine, making it just as easy to transport and store, but requires just a single injection to protect against Covid. 

Efficacy: Johnson and Johnson said it prevents, on average, 66 per cent of all coronavirus cases among people who get the jab.

The company also found it prevented severe symptoms in 85 per cent of people and no-one who got the jab died or needed hospital treatment from 28 days after being inoculated. 

The 66 per cent efficacy was a global average, with the jab preventing 72 per cent of cases in the US but only 57 per cent in South Africa, which is being devastated by a mutated variant that appears to be less susceptible to vaccines and immunity from older versions of the virus. It is promising, however, that the jab still worked in South Africa and still prevented hospitalisation.

How many? The UK has already struck a deal for 30million doses, with the option of ordering 22million more.  

Valneva (in trials) — 100million doses

Type: This jab is an ‘inactivated whole virus vaccine’ which uses a damaged version of the real coronavirus to stimulate the immune system.

Efficacy: Unknown – trials are still ongoing, 

How many? Britain has already ordered 100million doses and the first batches could be delivered by the end of 2021. 

GlaxoSmithKline/Sanofi Pasteur (in trials) — 60million doses  

Type: GSK’s vaccine is based on the existing technology used to produce Sanofi’s seasonal flu vaccine. Genetic material from the surface protein of the Covid virus is inserted into insect cells – the basis of Sanofi’s influenza product – and then injected to provoke an immune response in a human patient.

Efficacy: Unknown – trials are still ongoing.

How many?  The UK in July secured 60million doses of the prospective treatment, but the companies say they will likely not be ready before the end of 2021.

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