A pharmaceutical firm has asked for an apology and has not ruled out future legal action after the UK health secretary told MPs its coronavirus vaccine would not get approval for use in the country.
Valneva, a French company which has a production facility in Livingston, West Lothian, 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 Javid’s comments in September had caused reputational damage, had financial implications for the company, and “put a question mark next to our vaccine”.
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 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.”
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 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.”