ISix corona vaccines are now available in the European Union. On Friday, the EU Commission approved the preparation from the French-Austrian manufacturer Valneva for restricted use in the EU as a new option. Because it is based on inactivated viruses, it is also referred to as a “dead vaccine”.
The vaccine can be administered to an age group between 18 and 50 years. It is the first approval of a new vaccine in six months. At the same time, the EU Medicines Agency EMA extended its recommendation for the vaccine Nuvaxovid from the American manufacturer Novavax, which was previously only approved for adults, to the age group of 12 to 17 years. In addition to this, the corona vaccines from Biontech/Pfizer, Moderna, Astra-Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson have so far been approved in the EU.
On Thursday evening, the EMA recommended the approval of the Valneva vaccine. The data from the vaccination studies with this are robust and meet the EU criteria for efficacy, safety and quality, said the EMA. The study, which was based on a comparison with the Astra-Zeneca vaccine, involved almost 3,000 test subjects over the age of 30. According to the agency’s EMA data, the Valneva preparation triggers a higher production of antibodies against the original strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus than the Astra Zeneca preparation.
However, it is unclear how much Valneva can do with the approval. In May, the EU Commission announced its intention to possibly terminate the contract with Valneva. The contract allows termination, since no approval had been granted by the end of April. However, individual member states had signaled that they were still interested in the vaccine.
Valneva founder hopes to convince vaccine skeptics
This is what Valneva founder and managing director Thomas Lingelbach believes in. “Inactivated vaccines are the best tolerated there are. That’s why we think they could convince some of the 15 percent of adult Europeans who have not yet been vaccinated,” he said in an interview with the FAZ. Since it is structured similarly to traditional flu vaccines, the Valneva boss hopes with his vaccine not least to address people who are skeptical about the newer mRNA technology-based preparations from Biontech/Pfizer and Moderna as well as the vector vaccines from Astra-Zeneca and Johnson & Johnson. “Some people are concerned about the side effects of vaccines based on mRNA technology,” says Valneva CEO Lingelbach. “That’s why we think they could choose a more conventional technology.” However, similar hopes have not been fulfilled in Germany with the Novavax vaccine, and demand from previous vaccine skeptics has remained low. However, Lingelbach says it stands out from Novavax: As a whole-virus vaccine, the Valneva preparation simulates a natural infection even better because it is a whole-virus vaccine that contains complete corona viruses – while the Novavax preparation “only “ is protein based.
Valneva’s vaccine is to be produced primarily at its own plant in Scotland. It is to be bottled in Sweden. It is already approved in Great Britain, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. For Valneva, which is based in Saint-Herblain near Nantes, has its research and development center in Vienna and was formed nine years ago through the merger of the Austrian vaccine manufacturer Intercell and Vivalis from France, approval in the EU is a liberating blow.
The company’s shares have had turbulent months and lost around 70 percent of their value between mid-December and mid-June. After the positive news from this week, it increased significantly. A contributing factor was that the American pharmaceutical company Pfizer acquired 8.1 percent of the shares in Valneva for 90.5 million euros.