British vaccine dominance is set to expand even further as the health secretary Matt Hancock announced that large-scale manufacturing for the Valneva vaccine will begin in Scotland today.
Taking to Twitter, Mr Hancock said: “The Valneva vaccine will be another vital tool in our fight against the virus if approved. The start of manufacturing in Livingston today is another fantastic example of the strength of our Union, as we work together as one United Kingdom to tackle the virus.”
The French vaccine maker has completed recruitment for early clinical trials and if the jab is approved, Britain could see its total vaccine supply rocket to 200m doses with production in full flow.
The UK has already secured a commitment to produce 60m doses of the Valneva jab by the end of this year, with an option for a further 130m if the vaccine is “proven to be safe, effective and suitable.”
Business secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said that the early launch of manufacturing will give Britain “a running start at rolling these out as quickly as possible to protect the British public if it receives regulatory approval.”
The foresight underlines the sense of urgency of the British government in the fight to beat coronavirus, and stands in stark contrast to the lackadaisical attitude of the European Union – which in recent days has exhibited desperation as their vaccine woes mount.
Yesterday, a German MEP made waves by warning Britain and vaccine manufacturers that they “will suffer” if Europeans are treated as “second class” in the bloc’s most recent hysterical outburst.
The EU was recently revealed to be three months behind the curve compared to Britain with the groundbreaking Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, with the European Commission wasting two months renegotiating a deal already struck by Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Italy – with no material changes to the terms.
With consequent lag in the rollout of production facilities, AstraZeneca’s factory in Belgium is now suffering production glitches and has forced the medical giant to slash expected Q1 deliveries to the continent.
The hitch has backed Eurocrats into a corner, confronted by their own bungling incompetence. They are now demanding doses be diverted from Britain, where production is going off smoothly because of the extra time afforded to AstraZeneca by the UK’s timely deal-making.
Their relative position on the Valneva vaccine appears to be no different, with the European Commission reporting an end to “exploratory talks” last fortnight, hammering out an “envisaged contract” for a mere 30m doses, with room for another 30m at a later date.
The timetable for Eurocrats finalising the deal and beginning to plan for production facilities and logistical solutions are unclear.