COVID-19 vaccine ‘won’t be ready until mid-2021’


The boss of a drugs company that has agreed to deliver up to 100 million doses of a potential COVID-19 vaccine to the UK has told Sky News there is a more than 50% chance of it reaching patients.

Thomas Lingelbach, chief executive of France-based Valneva, also told Sky’s Ian King Live that he did not believe the drug would be widely available before the middle of next year.

Valneva, which has a manufacturing base at Livingston in Scotland, is behind one of two coronavirus vaccine partnerships announced by the UK government earlier this week.

Sky's Laura Bundock

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Mr Lingelbach told Sky News: “We are trying to bring a 10-year development cycle into 10 months.

“I hope that some will be faster but… I don’t expect personally that we’re going to see major supplies before the middle of next year.

“Probability of success is always difficult to predict but I would really give the conventional approach that we are running right now a probability of success above 50%.”

On Monday, the government announced an agreement in principle for access to 60 million doses of the vaccine Valneva is developing, with the option to buy 40 million more if it is proven to be safe, effective and suitable.

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The UK has also signed a deal for 30 million doses of a vaccine being developed by BioNTech and Pfizer, which has reached Phase 2 trials.

Vaccines typically take years to develop and more than a dozen targeted at COVID-19 are in the early stages of testing globally.

Britain has previously signed a deal with AstraZeneca to provide 100 million doses of one of them which is being tested by Oxford University – and which disclosed results of the first phase of human trials earlier this week.

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Valneva is aiming for clinical trials of its vaccine to start in November or December this year.

The timetable is slower than some others but Mr Lingelbach has said its traditional technique could prove more effective than newer approaches used by rivals.

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