'Smacks of revenge for AstraZeneca!' French fury as UK ends Covid vaccine contract


    The UK Government has terminated an agreement with French pharmaceutical company Valneva for its COVID-19 vaccination, the company said. Some 100 million doses of the vaccine were put on order after the UK increased its request by 40 million in February. The move was lambasted in France with Le Figaro readers claiming Boris Johnson’s Government is acting in revenge for the EU’s decision to end its contract with AstraZeneca.

    One person said: “It smacks of revenge following AstraZeneca’s problems…”

    And another noted: “With the British, what else to expect?

    “Valneva is in breach of its obligations regarding a vaccine that is only under development. All this, not to say frankly: ‘we changed our minds’.

    “The French state is failing in its obligations concerning migrants, even though we are even going to look for them at sea to bring them back to us.

    “Europe refuses to re-renegotiate a post-Brexit agreement, and Boris Johnson’s whims are not satisfied.

    “Always equal to themselves, the English.”

    “Another proof of UK deceit,” someone else added.

    Another reader echoed: “Poor Englishmen. Bitter to the rind.

    “The EU has terminated its AstraZeneca contract (for good reason, by the way), so we are doing the same to you.

    Not only is it totally childish, but it just reflects the level of dismay in the UK. The boat sinks.”

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    The decision also ignited calls for French President Emmanuel Macron to purchase vaccine doses outside the EU procurement scheme and take advantage of the vials left by the UK.

    Frexit Generation leader Charles-Henri Gallois said: “France should take this opportunity and pre-order doses of the French vaccine from #Valneva outside the EU purchasing programme!

    “We know how to speak of sovereignty for communication.

    “It would now be a question of showing it for once by deeds!”

    The UK Government served notice over allegations of a breach of the agreement, but the firm, which is manufacturing the jab at its site in Livingston, West Lothian, in Scotland, said it “strenuously” denies the allegations.

    In a statement, Valneva said: “Valneva SE, a specialty vaccine company, today announced that it has received a termination notice from the UK Government (HMG) in relation to the Supply Agreement for its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, VLA2001.

    “The contract provides HMG with the right to terminate. HMG has alleged that the company is in breach of its obligations under the supply agreement, but the company strenuously denies this.”

    The vaccine candidate is currently in Phase 3 trials, the firm said, with results due in the fourth quarter.

    “Subject to these data and MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) approval, Valneva believes that initial approval for VLA2001 could be granted in late 2021”, the company added.

    It added: “Valneva has worked tirelessly, and to its best efforts, on the collaboration with HMG including investing significant resources and effort to respond to HMG’s requests for variant-derived vaccines.

    “Valneva continues to be committed to the development of VLA2001 and will increase its efforts with other potential customers to ensure that its inactivated vaccine can be used in the fight against the pandemic.”


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