The UK medicines regulator has approved its sixth Covid vaccine as it gave a jab developed by Valneva the green light.
It is believed to be the first in the world to approve the French biotech company’s product.
The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) announced the move on Thursday morning.
The independent regulator said the Valneva vaccine is the first Covid vaccine of its kind – a whole-virus inactivated jab – to be approved in the UK.
MHRA said it was a whole-virus inactivated COVID-19 vaccine, which sees the virus grown in a lab and then made completely inactive.
“With this type of vaccine, the virus is grown in a lab and then made completely inactive so that it cannot infect cells or replicate in the body but can still trigger an immune response to the Covid-19 virus,” the regulator said.
“This process is widely used already in the production of flu and polio vaccines.”
Dr June Raine, the chief executive of the MHRA, said the approval of the Valneva jab followed a “rigorous review of the safety, quality and effectiveness of this vaccine” as well as expert advice from the government’s independent scientific advisory body, the Commission on Human Medicines.
The Valneva jab joins five other Covid vaccines with regulatory approval in the UK, including Pfizer/BioNTech, Oxford/Astrazeneca and Moderna. The Janssen and Novavax jabs have also been approved but are not yet available.
Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, the chair of the Commission on Human Medicines, said two doses are needed for a “robust antibody response” with the Valneva jab. “This means that people will need to be made aware that protection will only start after two doses.”
Sir Munir added: “The storage temperature for the Valneva vaccine – of 2C to 8C – is similar to that of a domestic fridge, making it appropriate for use in countries where storage at very low temperatures is not possible.”