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EXCLUSIVE Some EU nations still want Valneva COVID-19 vaccine trade sources

A woman has a small bottle marked with a “Coronavirus COVID-19 vaccine” sticker and a medical syringe in this illustration taken October 30, 2020. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / File Photo

Some EU countries still want Brussels to reach an agreement to buy Valneva’s (VLS.PA) COVID-19 vaccine candidate despite a recent setback in negotiations, as the bloc aims to strengthen and diversify supplies, say sources who are familiar with the talks, to Reuters.

A spokesman for the European Commission said last week that the French vaccine manufacturer had not met the conditions needed to reach an agreement two days after the company said it would now prioritize a country-by-country access.

The EU ended exploratory talks with Valneva in January on the delivery of up to 60 million doses of its vaccine, which uses inactivated whole virus particles and stems from the technology behind its licensed Japanese encephalitis shot.

Two sources familiar with the bloc’s plans said some EU members, including France and Germany, were still pushing for an agreement to help diversify supplies as Europe seeks to secure vaccines over the next two years.

“There are about 10 countries interested in an agreement with Valneva. The contract has been written, but the two sides still have to agree on a few structuring parameters. Once this is cleared, things can move on quickly,” said one of the sources.

The sources refused to be identified because of the confidentiality of the conversations.

Valneva and the European Commission declined to comment.

So far, the EU has purchased COVID-19 vaccines from Pfizer (PFE.N) / BioNTech, Moderna (MRNA.O), AstraZeneca (AZN.L), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ.N), CureVac (5CV.DE) and Sanofi / GlaxoSmithKline (SASY.PA) / GSK (GSK.L).

It is currently negotiating a third contract with Pfizer and BioNTech, which will mark the world’s largest vaccine supply agreement.

The vaccines have different approaches, ranging from the use of recombinant proteins to so-called messenger RNA.

Valneva, which launched a human trial at a late stage for its shot last week, has signed a deal with the UK for up to 190 million doses by 2025 in a deal potentially up to 1.4 billion euros (1.7 billion). billion dollars).

The company’s vaccine will be produced in Scotland with an estimated capacity of 200 million doses next year. It will use an excipient manufactured by the American company Dynavax (DVAX.O).

This single location is a concern for the EU, which wants to ensure that vaccines are produced on its soil and avoid a scenario where the company may be tempted to prioritize deliveries to the UK to the detriment of the continent, the sources said.

It has launched a legal battle against AstraZeneca, which it accuses of holding doses back in the UK back from its supplies to the region.

Germany wants Valneva to first agree that it will not prioritize Britain in supplies, one of the sources said.

In February, Valneva’s CFO David Lawrence told Reuters the group was open to production partnerships in other regions if its vaccine candidate secured approval and generated sufficient interest beyond the UK and EU.

($ 1 = 0.8269 euros)

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