THE UK Government has terminated an agreement with a pharmaceutical company which has been making Covid jags in Scotland.

French pharmaceutical company Valneva, which is manufacturing vaccines at its site in Livingston, says Boris Johnson’s administration has cancelled a deal for 100 million doses.

The UK Government upped its order by 40m in February but it has now served notice over allegations of a breach of the agreement – prompting Holyrood ministers to demand answers.

The firm – which received Johnson at its Livingston site during a controversial trip to Scotland in January – "strenuously" denies the allegations.

Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said the move would be a "blow" for the site, stating: "When it comes to their supposed alleged failure to meet their contract obligations, we obviously are looking for more information from the UK Government and would expect that shortly."

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."

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Yousaf insised there will nevertheless be sufficient supplies for a potential booster campaign.

Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme, he said: "First and foremost, even if this contract is terminated, we have enough supply even for a booster programme moving forward.

"I want to give absolute confidence to anybody listening that we have the supplies necessary to continue to vaccinate, and particularly with a booster programme hopefully on the horizon shortly."

He added: "The second thing, of course, is this is a blow for the facility in Livingston.
"We are very keen and will be reaching out to the company to try to get security and secure a future for that facility in Livingston - we hope that would be with Valneva."

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

It added that subject to these and MHRA (the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) approval, it believes that "initial approval" for the VLA2001 vaccine could be granted in late 2021.

The firm stated: "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."

The Prime Minister's official spokesman insisted the cancellation of the vaccine contract with Valneva will not impact on the UK's vaccine programme.

He said: "You'll appreciate this is an ongoing commercial issue, so I'm slightly restricted in what I can say. I appreciate that the company has issued a statement.

"At this point, I'm restricted as to what I can say. Broadly, you'll know that MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) has not approved a Valneva vaccine.

"The comments from the company won't have any impact on our vaccine supply and did not form any part of our vaccine rollout in autumn and winter.

"DH (The Department of Health) might be able to say more in due course."

Local MP, the SNP's Hannah Bardell said she was "incredibly disappointed" by the news.
She pledged she would be "working with Valneva – who have worked tirelessly on this vaccine – and will raise this urgently with the UK Government".

Johnson came under fire for visiting the Valneva lab after it was revealed he did so despite knowing there was a coronavirus outbreak at the site.

Downing Street insisted the visit was "Covid compliant".