Valneva announces its inactivated COVID-19 vaccine candidate neutralizes Omicron variant in Phase 1/2 trial; 100% of participants showed antibodies against ancestral virus and Delta variant, 87% had antibodies against Omicron

Sample article from our Health Care Sector

SAINT HERBLAIN, France , January 19, 2022 (press release) –

  • Preliminary laboratory studies demonstrate that three doses of Valneva’s inactivated COVID-19 vaccine candidate VLA2001 induced neutralization of the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529 lineage) 
  • 100% of tested serum samples presented neutralizing antibodies against the ancestral virus and Delta variant, and 87% against the Omicron variant

Valneva SE (Nasdaq: VALN; Euronext Paris: VLA), a specialty vaccine company, today announced results from an initial laboratory study demonstrating that serum antibodies induced by three doses of Valneva’s inactivated COVID-19 vaccine candidate, VLA2001, neutralize the Omicron variant.

Sera from 30 participants in the Phase 1/2 trial VLA2001-201 were used in a pseudovirus assay to analyze neutralization of the ancestral SARS-CoV-2 virus as well as the Delta and Omicron variants.

All 30 samples (100%) presented neutralizing antibodies against the ancestral virus and Delta variant, and 26 samples (87%) presented neutralizing antibodies against the Omicron variant. The mean fold reduction of neutralization relative to the ancestral virus was 2.7-fold for Delta and 16.7-fold for Omicron.

Juan Carlos Jaramillo, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of Valneva, commented, “We are extremely pleased with these results, which confirm the potential for broad-spectrum protection of our inactivated, adjuvanted whole virus vaccine and its ability to address currently circulating variants of concern. These results add to earlier findings from our Cov-Compare Phase 3 trial, in which two doses of VLA2001 given as a primary vaccination were shown to induce superior neutralizing antibody levels and a broad T-cell response. We continue to believe that VLA2001 could be an important component of the fight against COVID-19, and Valneva remains fully committed to bringing VLA2001 to people who need it as soon as we can.”

Valneva is continuing to provide data to the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, and the National Health Regulatory Authority in Bahrain (NHRA) as part of the rolling submissions process for initial approval of VLA2001. The Company continues to expect to complete these submissions in time to receive potential regulatory approvals in the first quarter of 2022.[1]

Valneva announced in November 2021 that the European Commission signed an agreement for the Company to supply up to 60 million doses of VLA2001 over two years – including 24.3 million doses in 2022[2]. Delivery of the vaccine in Europe is currently expected to begin in April 2022, subject to approval by the EMA. Valneva also announced in December 2021 that it had signed an agreement to supply one million doses of VLA2001 to the Kingdom of Bahrain, with deliveries planned in the first quarter of 2022 subject to approval from the Bahraini NHRA.[3]

About Valneva’s Cross-Neutralization Laboratory Studies
To assess neutralization, pseudoviruses expressing the spike (S) protein from either the ancestral SARS-CoV-2 virus, the Delta variant, or the Omicron variant were pre-incubated with serial dilutions of individual serum samples and then used to infect target cells. Neutralization was calculated from the reduction of infection efficiency at different serum dilutions compared to a no serum control. The assays and analyses were performed by the German Primate Center (Deutsches Primatenzentrum).[4]

About VLA2001
VLA2001 is currently the only whole virus, inactivated, adjuvanted vaccine candidate in clinical trials against COVID-19 in Europe. It is intended for active immunization of at-risk populations to prevent carriage and symptomatic infection with COVID-19 during the ongoing pandemic and potentially later for routine vaccination including addressing new variants. VLA2001 may also be suited for boosting, as repeat booster vaccinations have been shown to work well with whole virus inactivated vaccines. VLA2001 is produced on Valneva’s established Vero-cell platform, leveraging the manufacturing technology for Valneva’s licensed Japanese encephalitis vaccine, IXIARO®. VLA2001 consists of inactivated whole virus particles of SARS-CoV-2 with high S-protein density, in combination with two adjuvants, alum and CpG 1018. This adjuvant combination has consistently induced higher antibody levels in preclinical experiments than alum-only formulations and shown a shift of the immune response towards Th1. CpG 1018 adjuvant, supplied by Dynavax Technologies Corporation (Nasdaq: DVAX), is a component of the US FDA- and EMA-approved HEPLISAV-B® vaccine. VLA2001’s manufacturing process, which has already been upscaled to final industrial scale, includes chemical inactivation to preserve the native structure of the S-protein. VLA2001 is expected to conform with standard cold chain requirements (2 to 8 degrees Celsius).

About Valneva SE
Valneva is a specialty vaccine company focused on the development and commercialization of prophylactic vaccines for infectious diseases with significant unmet medical need. The Company takes a highly specialized and targeted approach to vaccine development and then applies its deep understanding of vaccine science to develop prophylactic vaccines addressing these diseases. Valneva has leveraged its expertise and capabilities both to successfully commercialize two vaccines and to rapidly advance a broad range of vaccine candidates into and through the clinic, including candidates against Lyme disease, the chikungunya virus and COVID-19.

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Dan Rivard
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