(Photo: JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images)

Vaccine giant Valneva has started commercial manufacturing of its Covid-19 vaccine in Scotland.

The vaccine production follows a joint investment in the facility at Livingston by the UK government last year as part of an agreement in principle to secure early access to Valneva’s vaccine by the end of 2021.

As many as 60 million doses have already been secured for the UK, with an option to acquire a further 130 million, if the vaccine is proven to be safe, effective, and suitable.

“This investment will now support 100 new highly-skilled jobs for scientists and technicians at the Livingston facility-doubling the workforce, putting Scotland at the forefront of the UK’s fight against Covid-19,” the government has said.

The facility will also boost the UK’s resilience in dealing with current and future pandemics by establishing a permanent vaccine manufacturing base.

Valneva’s coronavirus vaccine candidate is currently in phase first and second trials and will still need to meet the necessary safety and effectiveness standards and receive regulatory approval before it is rolled out at the end of the year.

However, if it is approved, manufacturing at risk now will mean that the UK can roll the vaccine out across the country quicker.

The new facility establishes a permanent UK capability to manufacture inactivated viral vaccines – one of the most proven, widely used types which is also used for flu, polio and rabies jabs.

If the vaccine proves successful and receives regulatory approval following a rigorous assessment of available data, the Livingston facility will have the capacity to produce up to 250 million doses annually for shipment across the UK and around the world.

Health secretary Matt Hancock said: “We’ve already secured 60 million doses of the Valneva vaccine which, if approved, will be another vital tool in our fight against this virus.​ The start of manufacturing in West Lothian today puts Scottish expertise right at the heart of the UK vaccine programme.

“Set to deliver millions more jabs across all four nations, this is yet another fantastic example of the strength of our Union, as we work together as one United Kingdom to tackle the virus.”

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