Covid-19 roundup: UK pulls out of billion-dollar vaccine supply deal as nation embraces mix-and-match booster approach
A vaccine agreement between the UK and French biotech Valneva worth $1.65 billion has been abandoned after the country says terms of the deal were not met.
Valneva’s vaccine candidate uses an inactivated virus to invoke an immune response. While that may provide greater coverage against the virus, it can also cause a longer manufacturing timetable. The company announced that Phase III results for VLA2001 were expected in early Q4 2021, and will be a part of the candidate’s submission to the MHRA for approval.
The UK has alleged that Valneva hasn’t held up its end of the bargain, while the company has denied the claims. The Financial Times said that it’s not clear what pushed the government to kill the deal, though the slower timeline means the deal would probably have little impact on the country’s booster shot rollout.
A press release from Dynavax, who has a supply agreement with Valneva for VLA2001, said that Valneva hasn’t yet canceled any purchase orders for the CpG 1018 adjuvant, which is used to make the jab. Valneva is not the only company using the adjuvant in its development of a vaccine, CEO Ryan Spencer said in a press release.
“Dynavax intends to continue to monitor the situation but can make no assurances regarding the outstanding orders,” the press release said. “If Valneva’s existing purchase orders are canceled, Dynavax will work to reallocate CpG 1018 inventory to its other COVID-19 collaborators.”
Mix-and-match campaign to lead UK booster efforts
As companies around the world give the mix-and-match vaccine strategy a try, the UK is set to become the first country to use the method for its booster program, government officials told the Financial Times.
A third dose will likely be a different version from the first two after studies from Oxford University found that protection against symptomatic infection began to lose power four months after the initial inoculation. Many in the UK have been vaccinated with the AstraZeneca jab, which is less effective against the Delta variant that is causing a majority of breakthrough cases.
In July, South Korea began offering Pfizer’s shot as a second dose for 760,000 people who first received AstraZeneca’s jab, as it awaited a shipment of 835,000 doses of AstraZeneca’s vaccine that were months behind schedule. In Canada, the public health agency recommended a second dose of an mRNA shot as opposed to an AAV vaccine. In France, health regulator Haute Autorité de Santé recommended AstraZeneca recipients under the age of 55 switched to an mRNA dose as well.
In May, results from a Spanish study showed that it was safe and effective to mix and match the Pfizer/BioNTech jab and AstraZeneca, though that could lead to more severe side effects. The announcement from the UK is the first time a plan has been in place for mix-and-match booster shots, however. Researchers noticed an increase in cases of fever, chills, fatigue, headache, joint pain, malaise, and muscle ache in the mixed schedule groups. No one was hospitalized due to the symptoms, most of which occurred in the 48 hours after vaccination