Coronavirus: Nantes Biotech Valneva, in the Vaccine Race, Starts Testing on Humans

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Illustration of vaccine doses of Valneva

VACCINE: Based in Nantes, the Franco-Austrian company, Valneva hopes to market its coronavirus vaccine at the end of 2021

  • Valneva will start clinical trials in humans for its coronavirus vaccine candidate.
  • The tests will be carried out in the United Kingdom, whose government has secured the supply of 60 million doses.

The Franco-Austrian biotech Valneva, specializing in vaccines and headquartered in Nantes, will start its clinical trials on humans for its candidate vaccine against Covid-19, she announced on Wednesday. The UK has already placed orders with it, having made a deal with the company.

The phase 1/2 trial, which will assess the safety and immunogenicity (the ability to induce an immune response) of three different doses of the vaccine (low, medium, high) in approximately 150 healthy adults, will be conducted over several UK sites. The selection of the optimal vaccine dose is scheduled for the second quarter of 2021, with marketing authorization expected in the fourth quarter next year. Valneva had previously indicated that he was counting on a release in mid-2021.

A virus deprived of its ability to harm

Valneva’s vaccine candidate is based on a proven approach already used by biotech for its vaccine against Japanese encephalitis. Inactivated virus technology involves creating an immune response in people by injecting them with a virus that is deprived of its ability to harm. “VLA2001” consists of inactivated particles of the Sars-cov-2 virus with a high density of protein S (the “key” that allows the coronavirus to enter human cells), conjugated with two adjuvants.

In the deal between Valneva and the UK government, London secured the supply of 60 million doses at a price of € 470 million, with options for the supply of an additional 130 million doses between 2022 and 2025. The government The UK is thus financing the production and clinical development of the vaccine, this investment being recovered from the supply of the vaccine.

In all, this deal could earn Valneva up to 1.37 billion euros. The company, which employs around 500 people worldwide, markets two vaccines, against cholera and Japanese encephalitis. It is also in phase 2 clinical trial on Lyme disease, as well as in phase 3 (the last in humans) for its vaccine candidate against chikungunya.

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