A Covid-19 vaccine manufactured in West Lothian has been given regulatory approval by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
The UK’s independent medicines regulator is the first in the world to approve the product by the French firm Valneva, MHRA said in a statement on Thursday.
The jab developed by the firm, which has a factory in Livingston near Edinburgh, is the sixth Covid-19 vaccine to be granted an MHRA authorisation.
Dr June Raine, MHRA chief executive, said: “Our approval of the Covid-19 vaccine made by Valneva today follows a rigorous review of the safety, quality and effectiveness of this vaccine, and expert advice from the government’s independent scientific advisory body, the Commission on Human Medicines.”
The UK had been due to receive 100 million doses of the French firm’s jab, but the Government cancelled the deal last September due to a “breach of obligations”.
Earlier this year, Valneva received development funding of up to £20m by Scottish Enterprise in a bid to build up manufacturing capability at the factory.
Hannah Bardell, the SNP MP for Livingston, said: “This is a huge moment, well done to everyone at Valneva who worked so hard to make this happen.”
The granting of regulatory approval comes as people aged over 75 and those at high risk from the virus continue to receive their second booster jab.
People are eligible to receive the vaccination at least 24 weeks after their last booster jab.
The MHRA says the Valneva vaccine is the first, whole-virus inactivated Covid-19 vaccine to gain regulatory approval in the UK.
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 – a process that is widely used already in the production of flu and polio vaccines.
Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, chair of the independent commission on human medicines, said: “Each type of vaccine has a different pattern of antibody response over time.
“For the Valneva vaccine, two doses are required before a robust antibody response is raised. This means that people will need to be made aware that protection will only start after two doses.
“The storage temperature for the Valneva vaccine – of 2°C to 8°C – is similar to that of a domestic fridge, making it appropriate for use in countries where storage at very low temperatures is not possible.”
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Wednesday that recent data shows the coronavirus situation has improved, although more than 5000 cases are still being recorded daily.
The legal requirement to wear masks in most indoor public spaces and on public transport in Scotland will be dropped from Easter Monday.
The law will be replaced by guidance, with people “strongly recommended” to wear face coverings in crowded indoor spaces and on public transport.