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Rebecca Lumley
14 Apr 2022

UK first in Europe to approve Valneva's easy-store COVID-19 vaccine

The UK was the first European country to approve the vaccine from French firm Valneva 

The UK has approved a new COVID-19 vaccine from French biotech Valneva that is easier to store than market rivals and involves a process widely used in making flu and polio vaccines. 

The VLA2001 vaccine is whole-virus inactivated, meaning the virus is grown in a lab and then made completely inactive so that it cannot infect cells or replicate in the body, but can still trigger an immune response. It received conditional marketing authorisation from the UK medicines regulator on Thursday for use by people aged 18-50.  

Unlike many other COVID-19 vaccines which require ultra-cold storage, VLA2001 can be stored in temperatures achievable with a domestic refrigerator.  

The European Medicines Agency’s human medicines committee (CHMP) initiated a rolling review of VLA2001 in December, 2021 and is expected to come to a decision this month. Valneva said in March that it expects a positive EMA recommendation, adding it has started manufacturing and has inventory ready for labelling and deployment once approved.  

The company signed an advance purchase agreement with the European Commission for up to 60 million doses in November last year, with plans to deliver 24.3 million doses during the second and third quarters of 2022.  

If approved, the shot would be the first inactivated whole-virus vaccine against COVID-19 in Europe. The technology has been used for decades, including in some vaccines against polio, influenza as well as the hepatitis A. Some view it as having the potential to appeal to those wary of new mRNA technology.  

The vaccine was granted emergency use authorization by Bahrain’s health regulator at the beginning of March, having also signed an advance purchase agreement.  


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