FILE PHOTO: Vials labelled "Astra Zeneca COVID-19 Coronavirus Vaccine" and a syringe are seen in front of a displayed AstraZeneca logo, in this illustration photo taken March 14, 2021. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

The newly launched Covid-19 vaccine by the French pharmaceutical company Valneva will compete with AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson (J&J) in the European market, says London-headquartered data analytics and consulting firm, GlobalData.

The new entrant has shown superior neutralising antibody levels and an equal seroconversion rate and protection against Sars-CoV-2, compared to AstraZeneca’s Vaxzevria.

Sharing his view, Philipp Rosenbaum, PhD, senior pharma analyst at GlobalData, said: “Valneva’s promising initial Phase III data, with at least equal protection levels and a superior tolerability profile compared to AstraZeneca’s vaccine”, will make it a strong competitor in the European market for Covid-19 vaccines.

“If Valneva’s safety data holds up, the low risk of thromboses events of AstraZeneca’s and Johnson & Johnson (J&J)’s adenovirus vector-based vaccines may become another important factor in deciding which vaccine to use.

He, however, highlighted that the French company might not be able to match the manufacturing capacity of AstraZeneca and J&J and their partners.

AstraZeneca has a great early-to-market advantage. Besides, its manufacturing collaboration with the Serum Institute of India will enable supply of up to three billion Covid-19 vaccine doses in 2021.

He added that Valneva will have to look for a strong partner and buyers, and evaluate if it can match Vaxzevira’s low price.

He further said the latest data could be a bad news for the adenovirus vector-based vaccine technology.

The French maker uses an inactivated vaccine technology that can be ramped up quickly.

Rosenbaum explains: “The technology involves the virus being grown in cell-culture and then inactivated and additionally uses an adjuvant to enhance the immune response.”

Another advantage of this technology is that it includes all vital proteins unlike in adenovirus vector-based and mRNA vaccines, allowing the human body to develop antibodies to different parts of the virus and enhancing the immune response.

Meanwhile, the duration of protection against Covid-19 will be an interesting data point to observe.

According to the long-term data from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna, protection against the infection wanes after six months, making booster jabs necessary for high-risk groups.

In case inactivated vaccine protection lasts longer, the key question will be to decide “whether a higher protection but more frequent boosters are preferable over lower but longer protection.”

Currently, all vaccines show great effectiveness in protection against severe disease and hospitalisation, he added.

More vaccines are expected to be introduced in the market with Novavax close to launch its recombinant nanoparticle vaccine, and Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline’s recombinant protein vaccine on track to launch next year.

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