Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi has said that the government had “a right” to quash its Covid-19 vaccine deal with French pharmaceutical firm Valneva.
Health secretary Sajid Javid agreed, saying in the government’s Covid-19 autumn and winter plan this afternoon: “There are commercial reasons that we have cancelled the contract.
“The vaccine in question would not get approval by the MHRA here in the UK.”
However, the health secretary assured that the government and the Scottish-based company are “working together to see what more we can do” for Scottish workers who will be impacted by the order cancellation.
News of the government cancelling the €1.65bn deal, over an alleged breach of its obligations, sent Valneva’s shares drastically southbound yesterday by as much as 45 per cent.
Zahawai said: “There are commercial sensitivities around this but we have a right to cancel the Valneva vaccine and that’s what we’ve informed the company we would do.”
The government initially ordered 100m doses of the French-Austrian firm’s vaccine, but upped it order by 40m in February.
Valneva has ”strenuously” denied the allegations, adding that it will continue its development plan for its VLA2001 Covid-19 vaccine – despite the termination of the contract.
The firm’s vaccine has not yet been approved for distribution by regulators, after beginning trials in December last year.
However, Valneva expects initial UK approval to be sometime later this year.