Valneva’s Covid-19 vaccine ‘triggers strong immune response’

Trials show nine out of 10 inoculated patients developed antibodies to fight off coronavirus

French engineer-virologist Thomas Mollet looks at 24 well plates adherent cells monolayer infected with a Sars-CoV-2 virus at the Biosafety level 3 laboratory (BSL3) of the Valneva SE Group headquarters in Saint-Herblain, near Nantes, western France, on July 30, 2020. - Could the Covid-19 vaccine be found by a biotechnology company in western France, far from major global research centers. The hypothesis is more than plausible for the British government, which has just signed an important agreement with it. (Photo by JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER / AFP)
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The Covid-19 vaccine made by French biotech company Valneva induces a powerful immune response in the human body, clinical trial results showed.

Data released on Tuesday from a study involving 153 people showed the drug was safe and well tolerated, with no safety concerns raised by an independent monitoring board.

The drug maker said the trials showed the vaccine was “highly immunogenic with more than 90 per cent of all study participants developing significant levels of antibodies” to the coronavirus spike protein.

Results showed the vaccine also induced T-cell responses, which help the body fend off a virus and aid long-lasting immunity.

The vaccine, which is delivered to the patient in two doses, will undergo larger, Phase-3 trials.

​Valneva signed a deal with the UK government for up to 190 million doses by 2025, an agreement worth up to £1.2 billion ($1.66bn).

The company is also in talks with the EU to supply 60 million doses to the bloc.

Valneva’s drug is the only inactivated, whole-virus vaccine on trial in Europe. It consists of virus particles grown in the lab and then killed to eliminate its capacity to cause disease.

UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the vaccine would be manufactured in Britain.

“This vaccine will be made in Livingston in Scotland, giving another boost to British life science, and, if approved, will play an important role in protecting our communities,” he said.

“I look forward to seeing the results of the upcoming Phase-3 trial.”

Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said the Valneva drug would be “another powerful weapon in our arsenal to beat this pandemic”.

He said the vaccine developed by Moderna would be distributed this month. The AstraZeneca and Pfizer-BioNTech drugs are already in circulation in Britain.

“It’ll be in deployment around the third week of April,” Mr Zahawi told the BBC. He said he was confident that the government would meet its target of offering all adults at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine by the end of July.