Valneva signs $1.6B supply, development agreement with U.K. for coronavirus vaccine hopeful

The biggest drugmakers in the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine have been racing to lock up national supply deals for months in anticipation of global demand for a winner. Even the lesser-known contestants are selling their wares around the world, though—and the U.K. appears to be buying. 

The British government has set aside $1.63 billion for a five-year supply of French drugmaker Valneva's inactivated COVID-19 shot. The deal could bring up to 190 million doses to the country by 2025, the partners said Monday. 

The pact includes an initial $558 million order for 60 million doses, set to be shipped by the second half of 2021, Valneva said in a release. The U.K. then has two follow-up options: An additional 40 million doses for 2022, and between 30 million and 90 million doses to be delivered by 2025. 

As part of their deal, the U.K. will help boost Valneva's development of the shot, dubbed VLA2001, which is expected to enter human trials in December and aims for a possible regulatory approval in the back half of 2021. The government is also investing in manufacturing capacity at Valneva's production facility in Livingston, Scotland, to help the company scale up. 

The U.K's big outlay to Valneva, a relative unknown in the hunt for a COVID-19 vaccine—at least compared with the Big Pharmas in the race—is its latest major investment to secure enough supply to protect its people from coronavirus.

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