The UK government has agreed with Valneva, a French biotech firm focused on vaccines, to jointly invest in the expansion of the latter’s manufacturing facility in Scotland to receive 60 million doses of its potential Covid-19 vaccine.

Vaalneva’s vaccine manufacture facility is located near Livingston in West Lothian and has more than 100 employees. One-fourth of the total employees are directly working on the company’s potential coronavirus vaccine.

The joint investment to expand the Livingston facility is anticipated to improve the vaccine production capability for Scotland and create new jobs for skilled scientists and technicians in the region.

Valneva chief financial officer David Lawrence said: “We are delighted to receive initial funding from the UK government to support the expansion of our Covid-19 vaccine manufacturing facilities. We are thrilled that the Secretary of State has made the time to travel to Livingston and to visit our site, it’s a real sign of the government’s commitment.

“We are working as hard and as fast as possible to develop the vaccine to meet the UK’s needs and indeed to try to address the broader need for a vaccine. We look forward to completing the final supply agreement in the next few weeks.”

The joint investment to support the expansion of vaccine facility in Livingston

If Valneva’s Covid-19 vaccine succeeds in clinical trials, the expanded manufacturing facility would supply up to 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine to the UK and other countries.

The UK government said that the vaccine will protect large populations of priority groups, including health and social care workers and patients at elevated risk.

The UK government’s investment in the expansion of the Livingston facility follows the new Vaccines Manufacturing and Innovation Centre (VMIC), which is under construction in Oxfordshire. VMIC is expected to be completed in summer 2021 and will produce vaccine doses at scale.

The government has also signed agreements with AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford to research, develop and manufacture 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccine, in addition to its agreement with BioNTech and Pfizer for 30 million doses of their vaccine.

Furthermore, the UK government has agreed with GSK and Sanofi to receive 60 million doses of their vaccine candidate and invested £40m in Imperial College London to develop a vaccine candidate.

UK Secretary of State for Business Alok Sharma said: “I’m incredibly grateful to our highly-skilled scientists and technicians in Livingston who are supporting the global effort to research, develop and manufacture a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine.

“The multi-million-pound up-front investment we have agreed with Valneva today means that their vaccine can be manufactured in quantity right here in Scotland. If clinical trials are successful, millions of people in priority groups across the UK will be protected by their life-saving vaccine.”