BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union said on Tuesday it had concluded exploratory talks with the French drugmaker Valneva for the supply of up to 60 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
Valneva is the eighth pharmaceutical firm with which the EU has said it is in talks to buy COVID-19 vaccines. It has already signed contracts with six companies, securing nearly 2.3 billion doses.
“The envisaged contract with Valneva would provide for the possibility for all EU Member States to purchase together 30 million doses, and they could further purchase up to 30 million more doses,” the EU Commission said in a statement, confirming earlier Reuters reports.
Valneva has not yet begun large-scale Phase III clinical trials for its candidate, which is based on an inactivated virus and is, like other leading candidates, expected to need a two-dose regimen.
Under the deal, the EU committed to giving the company an undisclosed, non-refundable down payment to secure doses. The remainder would be paid by EU governments willing to buy the shot if the vaccine is approved in Europe.
Valneva confirmed that it was “in advanced discussions with the European Commission (EC) for the supply of up to 60 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine”.
It expects to report initial safety and immunogenicity data in April 2021, and added: “If clinical development is successful, an initial approval may be granted in the second half of 2021.”
Valneva is the second French company to receive EU funds to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, after Sanofi, whose vaccine, developed with the British firm GlaxoSmithKline, is still in trials.
(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio; Editing by Kevin Liffey)