French pharmaceutical company, Valneva, has been developing an inactivated, adjuvanted COVID vaccine called VLA2001.
What is an inactivated vaccine?
As explained by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, inactivated vaccines are different from mRNA vaccines because they’re made with viruses whose genetic material has already been destroyed. As a result, they’re no longer able to infect cells or to replicate in the body, but they can still trigger an immune response.
Currently, Valneva’s inactivated vaccine is the only one being developed for COVID but experts are optimistic that it could be an important weapon against the virus.
UK pulls out of Valneva deal
In September, the UK government announced that they were cancelling an order they made with Valneva for 100 million vaccines. They took the decision after it became clear to them that the vaccine would not get approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). Sajid Javid said:
There are commercial reasons that we have cancelled the contract, but what I can tell her is that it was also clear to us that the vaccine in question that the company was developing would not get approval by the MHRA [The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency ] here in the UK.
Unfortunately, it looks like the UK may have pulled out of the deal a little too soon as Valneva revealed, on 18 October, that the results for their latest trials were incredibly promising.
Phase 3 results
In their Phase 3 clinical trial, they tested the vaccine on over 4,000 participants over the age of 18 in 26 different sites across the UK.
According to the findings that were published by the company, the vaccine was a better alternative to the AstraZeneca vaccine as it had ‘superior neutralising antibody titer levels’ and produced broad T-cell responses. Adam Finn, Professor of Paediatrics and the Trial Chief Investigator explains:
The low levels of reactogenicity and high functional antibody responses alongside broad T-cell responses seen with this adjuvanted inactivated whole virus vaccine are both impressive and extremely encouraging.
Moreover, the study found that participants also hadless side effects as compared with the AstraZeneca vaccine after inoculation. Valneva states in their press release:
VLA2001 was well tolerated, demonstrating a statistically significant better tolerability profile compared to active comparator vaccine.