Clinical trials have started in the UK for a coronavirus vaccine being developed in West Lothian.
Valneva’s candidate will initially be tested on 150 volunteers at four National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) testing sites in Birmingham, Bristol, Newcastle and Southampton.
The vaccine is being developed in Livingston and the UK Government has pre-ordered 60 million doses.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “As we take the monumental steps in rolling out the first Covid-19 vaccine, we must remember that we need to have a range of vaccines available to protect the British public now and long into the future.
“Today we have more welcome news that life-saving clinical trials will begin across the country to test the safety and effectiveness of Valneva’s vaccine, which is being clinically developed right here in the UK.
“Having visited Valneva’s state-of-the art facility in the summer, I have seen first-hand the incredible work our scientists and researchers are doing to develop this vaccine.”
The trials will show whether the vaccine produces a safe and effective immune response against Covid-19.
Larger tests will be planned for April 2021 if these are successful, with more than 4,000 UK volunteers taking two doses.
The UK Government has already pre-ordered the candidate, which could be made available by the end of 2021.
Valneva will potentially have the capacity to supply up to 250 million vaccine doses to the UK and internationally.
Thomas Lingelbach, the company’s CEO, said: “Our teams have been working extremely hard to develop our differentiated vaccine candidate and I would like to thank them, as well as the UK Government, for their dedication and support.
“While conducting our first clinical trials, we are already ramping up our manufacturing capacities and commencing production at full-scale so that we can make the vaccine widely available across the world assuming the vaccine is safe and effective.”