EU Drops Nearly All of Its Order for Valneva COVID Vaccine
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Commission has dropped nearly all of its order of 60 million doses of a new COVID-19 vaccine from French firm Valneva, the EU executive said on Wednesday, in a move that all but wipes out the shot’s value for the company. The EU agreed in November last year to buy the vaccine, with the first 27 million doses to be delivered this year, but the vaccine received approval only last month after protracted delays.
European countries are now well supplied with other vaccines, and vaccination programmes have slowed.
Under the revised deal, European countries will now buy just 1.25 million doses from Valneva, to be delivered in August and September, with an option to buy another 1.25 million by the end of this year.
“The order volume does not reflect the interest we see from European citizens,” Valneva CEO Thomas Lingelbach said in a statement.
Rx Securities analyst Samir Devani – who had once forecast 400 million euros ($407.96 million) in COVID vaccine sales for Valneva largely on the basis of the original EU contract – wrote off the value of the shot when the company revealed last month that the contract was in jeopardy.
On Wednesday, he said Valneva would likely use existing stock for the vaccine – VLA2001 – to fulfil the smaller EU order.
The company has suspended manufacturing for now, and said it would only further invest in the vaccine and its second-generation COVID-19 vaccine if deals with other customers are secured alongside necessary funding in coming months.
Britain cancelled its Valneva vaccine contract last year. The company has also secured approvals in Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.
It will be very difficult for Valneva to maintain a production line for VLA2001 without more orders, added Devani.
Valneva’s vaccine uses technology already employed for decades in shots against polio, influenza and hepatitis.
The company had bet it would entice people who had refused COVID vaccines that used newer technology such as mRNA. But another vaccine from Novavax, which also uses a traditional technology, has had limited take-up in Europe.
The continent is now battling a new COVID-19 wave spearheaded by the Omicron offshoot BA.5. Close to 3 million new cases were reported in Europe last week and hospitalisation rates have doubled, Hans Kluge, the WHO Regional Director for Europe, said on Tuesday.
Health officials have said elderly and vulnerable populations should be given second vaccine booster doses.
Meanwhile, regulators in Europe have begun reviewing variant-specific vaccines that could be ready later this year.
(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascioEditing by Foo Yun Chee and Peter Graff)
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