The French vaccines company had been building a state-of-the-art plant in Livingston as part of a €1.4bn ($1.65bn) five-year COVID-19 vaccine deal with the UK government; only for the UK government to cancel the contract in September 2021.
Consequently, construction of new capacity at the site was put on hold.
Now, Scottish Enterprise, Scotland’s national economic development agency, is granting the funding to the site to allow it to finish construction and start manufacturing COVID-19 and chikungunya vaccines: creating 'a key vaccine manufacturing site for the long term'.
The grants will be received over the next three years, commencing in March.
Supply for EU and Scotland
The first grant of up to £12.5m ($17m) will support research and development related to the manufacture of VLA2001, Valneva’s inactivated, whole virus COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
The vaccine starting a rolling review with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in December, with an order for up to 60 million doses for the EU in place.
Discussions between Valneva and the Scottish government are also underway regarding potential supply of the vaccine for Scotland: including an offer from Valneva to make up to 25,000 doses of VLA2001 available, free of charge, to NHS and frontline workers in the country.
VLA2001 is currently the only whole virus, inactivated, adjuvanted vaccine candidate against COVID-19 in clinical trials in Europe. It is produced on Valneva’s established Vero-cell platform, leveraging the manufacturing technology for Valneva’s licensed Japanese encephalitis vaccine, IXIARO.
VLA2001 consists of inactivated whole virus particles of SARS-CoV-2 with high S-protein density, in combination with two adjuvants, alum and Dynavax's CpG 1018. This adjuvant combination has consistently induced higher antibody levels in preclinical experiments than alum-only formulations and shown a shift of the immune response towards Th1.
The manufacturing process for VLA2001, which has already been upscaled to final industrial scale, includes chemical inactivation to preserve the native structure of the S-protein. VLA2001 is expected to conform with standard cold chain requirements (2 degrees to 8 degrees Celsius).
The second grant of up to £7.5m ($10.2m) will support research and development connected to Valneva’s manufacturing processes for other vaccines. This includes VLA1553, the company’s single-shot vaccine against chikungunya, which reported positive topline Phase 3 data in August.
Thomas Lingelbach, CEO, Valneva, said, “This investment bolsters Valneva’s longstanding relationship with Scottish Enterprise as well as our position at the forefront of life sciences and vaccine development in Scotland.
"From the only inactivated, whole virus COVID-19 vaccine candidate in clinical development in Europe to the most clinically advanced vaccine candidate against chikungunya in the world, Scottish Enterprise’s investment will support progress across Valneva’s research and development portfolio – as well as jobs and growth in Scotland."