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Technology, efficacy, approval … 3 things to know about the Franco-Austrian vaccine Valneva – LCI

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RESEARCH – The Franco-Austrian laboratory announces this Tuesday that its candidate vaccine against Covid-19 is entering the phase of phase 3 trials. Technology used, efficiency, approval … here is what you need to know.

It could become the first anti-Covid vaccine of its kind used in Europe before the end of 2021. The Franco-Austrian laboratory Valneva, based in Nantes, announced on Tuesday that the tests for its candidate vaccine with “inactivated virus”, also called VLA2001, are at an advanced stage. He thus hopes to demonstrate “an efficiency greater than 80% (…) before a possible marketing”, declared its managing director Franck Grimaud. But what do we know about this new vaccine? LCI takes stock.

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Covid-19: the challenge of vaccination

How does it work ?

Launched in September 2020, the vaccine candidate from the Valneva laboratory uses a technology more traditional than messenger RNA, called “inactivated virus”. This historic method, dating from the time of Louis Pasteur, is used in particular for the design of influenza vaccines each year, but also for the fight against hepatitis A and polio. It is also used for the Chinese vaccines Sinovac and Sinopharm, currently authorized in a limited number of countries, in Asia and Latin America in particular.

Vaccines with “inactivated virus” contain the virus (or bacteria) “carrier of the disease, or a very similar one”, has recently Explain World Health Organization (WHO). Dangerous elements that are inactivated or killed “using chemicals, heat or radiation”, she explains.

This “ghost” virus thus becomes incapable of infecting cells, and therefore of causing disease. On the other hand, it allows the immune system to develop an appropriate response and protects against infection with the “real” virus. These “inactivated virus” vaccines often require multiple doses or boosters, but cause few side effects.

What efficiency?

As the vaccine is still in the testing phase, it is therefore too early to know its exact rate of effectiveness, especially against severe forms of the virus. This is the first part of the phase 3 trials (carried out on approximately 4,000 patients of all ages) which will have to prove or not the real effectiveness of the treatment before a possible marketing by the end of 2021.

At the beginning of April, the Valneva laboratory welcomed convincing results at the end of the phase 2 trials, with a significant production of antibodies in more than 90% of the participants after having received two injections. The whole “without posing any security problem”, explains the British daily The Guardian.

Note that this efficacy remained lower than messenger RNA vaccines, used by the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna laboratories, which are around 95%. But would be superior to that of the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines, which work by viral vector, located between 60 and 70%.

Like all of these vaccines, the level of protection of the Valneva vaccine may decrease over the months and therefore require “regular vaccination” in the years to come, specifies Franck Grimaud.

To which countries?

For now, Valneva is mainly focusing on the European market, where discussions “are still in progress.” The laboratory submitted its request for authorization to the British health authorities on Monday. The United Kingdom has already ordered 100 million doses for 2021-2022.

The director general of the laboratory targets in particular “the part of the population more hesitant about new technologies” but also “adolescents and children” if children under 12 had to resort to vaccination. “A vaccine like ours, with its safety profile may be of interest”, he estimated.

Finally, the vaccine from the Franco-Austrian laboratory will be sent to developing countries where access to the vaccine remains difficult, due to the partial failure of the Covax program, nearly eight months after the start of the campaigns. massive vaccination programs in Western countries.

Read also

  • Vaccination: how France has caught up
  • Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine fully approved in US: what it means

While the tests are currently taking place in the United Kingdom, but also in a complementary way in New Zealand since the beginning of August with people over 56 years old, the results of the third phase should be known at the beginning of the fourth quarter of 2021.. If they were to be validated by the British health authorities in the coming weeks, Valneva would be the first anti-Covid vaccine with “inactivated virus” marketed in a European country before the end of 2021.

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