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Vaccine company asks for Javid apology over approval comments

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Health Secretary Sajid Javid (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)
Health Secretary Sajid Javid (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

A pharmaceutical firm has asked for an apology and has not ruled out future legal action after the Health Secretary told MPs its coronavirus vaccine would not get approval for use in the UK.

Valneva, a French company which has a production facility in Livingston in Scotland had its previous order of around 100 million doses torn up by the UK Government with Sajid Javid saying the product would not get the go-ahead from the regulator.

But the company, visited by Boris Johnson in January, has since been cleared to supply tens of millions of doses across Europe.

David Lawrence, Valneva chief financial officer, told BBC Radio Scotland Mr Javid’s comments in September had caused reputational damage, had financial implications for the company, and “put a question mark next to our vaccine”.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson tried his hand at one of the tests as he visited the Valneva laboratory in Livingston at the start of 2021 (Wattie Cheung/Daily Mail/PA) (PA Archive)
Prime Minister Boris Johnson tried his hand at one of the tests as he visited the Valneva laboratory in Livingston at the start of 2021 (Wattie Cheung/Daily Mail/PA) (PA Archive)

He said: “A lot of people had lost confidence in our vaccine following the Health Secretary’s comments in Parliament.

“We had to do a lot of work to restore confidence in the vaccine.”

Mr Lawrence said Mr Javid was “very clearly wrong” to state the vaccine would not secure approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

He added: “We would love to hear an apology from him.

“The damage he did to our company and our commercial discussions was quite significant and we’re still awaiting an apology for those remarks.”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid has been asked to apologise over his comments (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has been asked to apologise over his comments (Stefan Rousseau/PA) (PA Wire)

Mr Javid originally told MPs the company “would not get approval” by the regulator, but later amended Hansard, the official parliamentary record, to state the vaccine “has not yet gained” clearance.

Mr Lawrence said Valneva was still deciding whether or not to sue the Government over Mr Javid’s comments.

He said: “We haven’t ruled out any of our options yet.”

Asked for its response to Mr Lawrence’s comments, and whether an apology would be forthcoming, the Department of Health and Social Care said: “Clinical trials for the Valneva candidate vaccine have not yet been completed.

“As such, our independent medicines regulator – the MHRA – has not approved the Valneva candidate vaccine for use in the UK.”

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