Last reviewed 22 December 2020

Valneva has started UK clinical trials for what Business Secretary Alok Sharma has described as a promising Covid-19 vaccine.

Currently being developed in Livingston, West Lothian, the vaccine will initially be tested on 150 UK volunteers at four National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) testing sites in Birmingham, Bristol, Newcastle and Southampton.

Should this early trial prove successful, larger clinical trials will be planned for April 2021 with more than 4000 UK volunteers testing two doses of the vaccine in two groups: those aged between 18 and 65 years and over-65s.

The Government has pre-ordered Valneva’s vaccine candidate and, should studies prove it to be safe and effective, 60 million doses could be made available across the country by the end of 2021.

Mr 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.”

In total, the Government has developed a portfolio of seven different vaccine candidates and secured access to 357 million doses to date, putting, it said, the UK in the best position for a vaccine and increasing chances of finding one that works for different people.

Some of the volunteers taking part in Valneva’s clinical trials came from the NHS Vaccines Registry, allowing the UK public to support the national effort to speed up vaccine research.

Over 364,000 people have already signed up to the Registry, with more needed. See www.nhs.uk for more details.