THE UK Government has been accused of fibbing about why it cancelled a contract with a firm making Covid vaccines in Scotland.

The French pharmaceutical company Valneva said Downing Street had alleged it was "in breach of its obligations" under the deal to supply the jag, which it is currently developing at its facility in Livingston, West Lothian.

Scottish Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said the move would be a "blow" for the site – visited by Prime Minister Boris Johnson back in February – but insisted it would not impact the country’s supply chain.

The UK had ordered 100 million doses of the Valneva vaccine, with the amount to be supplied upped by 40m back in February.

But today, Tory Health Secretary Sajid Javid claimed the agreement was terminated in part because it was clear the vaccine would not be approved by UK medical authorities.

He told MPs there were “commercial reasons”, adding: “It was also clear to us that the vaccine in question that the company was developing would not get approval by the MHRA [Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency] here in the UK.”

The Conservative minister continued: “I have been in touch with the health minister in Scotland and he is fully aware of the situation and we remain in dialogue.”

That response prompted anger from the SNP’s Hannah Bardell, MP for Livingston.

She said she was "incredibly disappointed" by the news and pledged to work with Valneva and “raise this urgently with the UK Government".

Replying to Javid’s claims, Bardell tweeted: “Yesterday [the] reason given was allegedly that ‘the company is in breach of its obligations under the supply agreement’ (which they strenuously deny) and today it was because the MHRA wouldn’t approve it. UK gov can’t their story straight, shocking way to treat Valneva!”

She added: “[I] am furious, whatever reasons are the company should have had the opportunity to engage and be informed, which it would appear they weren’t, UK Gov can’t even be consistent, utterly reprehensible behaviour towards a local company at the forefront of COVID vaccine development.”

Asked by one Twitter user if the UK Government’s original reason for cancelling the contract was a “complete lie”, Bardell replied: “It would appear so, truly unbelievable.”

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The UK Department of Health and Social Care has been approached for comment. 

Speaking afterwards in the Scottish Parliament, Yousaf said the UK Government’s decision to cancel the contract was “unilateral”.

He insisted the move will not threaten Scotland’s supply of vaccines as the rollout is extended to younger children and ahead of a potential booster campaign.

The Prime Minister's official spokesman commented on Monday: "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 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."

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 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."