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Livingston factory could help produce 60 million doses of vaccine

PA Media logoPA Media 05/08/2020 By Neil Pooran, PA Scotland Political Reporter
a close up of a hand: Scottish researchers are helping to develop a vaccine (PA) © Simon Dawson Scottish researchers are helping to develop a vaccine (PA)

A factory in West Lothian is expanding as part of a deal to secure 60 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine candidate developed by the French firm Valneva.

The UK Government and the drugs firm are investing in the Livingston plant, with 75 new jobs expected to be created.

The Government had struck a deal for early access to Valneva’s “promising” vaccine candidate.

If clinical trials are successful, the site could provide up to 100 million doses of the vaccine across the UK and internationally.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma will visit the factory on Wednesday to hear about plans to scale-up production.

Alok Sharma wearing a suit and tie: Alok Sharma has said he was ‘incredibly grateful’ (10 Downing Street/PA) © Provided by PA Media Alok Sharma has said he was ‘incredibly grateful’ (10 Downing Street/PA)

Valneva’s vaccine, which is called VLA2001, is one of four potential vaccines which the UK Government has secured rights for.

Mr Sharma said: “I’m incredibly grateful to our highly-skilled scientists and technicians in Livingston who are supporting the global effort to research, develop and manufacture a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine.

“The multimillion-pound upfront investment we have agreed with Valneva today means that their vaccine can be manufactured in quantity right here in Scotland.

“If clinical trials are successful, millions of people in priority groups across the UK will be protected by their life-saving vaccine.”

In a call with journalists following his visit, Mr Sharma said that a potential vaccine from AstraZeneca was “ahead of the pack in terms of clinical trials”, but added: “It is entirely possible to imagine that you have a number of potential vaccines, but they are deployed in different parts of the population.”

Mr Sharma also urged caution about the prospect of a working vaccine, stressing there was “no guarantee” that any attempt would be effective.

Asked about the timeline for when a asked about a potential vaccine could be available, he said: “Ultimately, we’ll just have to see where any of these vaccines come out in terms of their efficacy.

“I don’t think anyone can predict precisely when this will happen.”

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said: “We are doing everything possible to keep people in all parts of the UK safe as we tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

“The UK Government is purchasing millions of doses of coronavirus vaccine for distribution across all parts of the UK.

“A safe and effective vaccine is vital to the long-term protection against the virus we need.

“I’m particularly pleased that Scotland’s world-class research sector is playing such an important role in developing a much-needed vaccine.”

Valneva said the final supply agreement would be concluded in the coming weeks.

Chief financial officer David Lawrence said: “We are delighted to receive initial funding from UK Government to support the expansion of our Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing facilities.

“We are thrilled that the Secretary of State has made the time to travel to Livingston and to visit our site, it’s a real sign of the Government’s commitment.”

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