The Valneva jab is the first whole-virus inactivated COVID-19 vaccine to gain regulatory approval in the UK.
Of the three vaccines used in the UK, two are mRNA vaccines (the Pfizer Comirnaty jab and Moderna's Spikevax) and the other (AstraZeneca's Vaxzevria) is an adenovirus vector vaccine. Two further vaccines have been approved but not rolled out: a second adenovirus-based vaccine, developed by Janssen and given as a single-dose; and Novavax's adjuvanted protein subunit vaccine Nuvaxovid.
Dr June Raine, chief executive of the MHRA, said: 'Our approval of the COVID-19 vaccine made by Valneva today follows a rigorous review of the safety, quality and effectiveness of this vaccine, and expert advice from the government’s independent scientific advisory body, the Commission on Human Medicines.'
The UK was due to receive 100 million doses of the Valneva vaccine, but the government cancelled the deal in September, citing what it called a 'breach of obligations' by the company.
The Valneva vaccine, which is stored at 2°C to 8°C, is approved for use in people aged 18 to 50 years, with the first and second doses to be taken at least 28 days apart.
Professor Sir Munir Pirmohamed, chair of the independent Commission on Human Medicines, said: 'Each type of vaccine has a different pattern of antibody response over time. For the Valneva vaccine, two doses are required before a robust antibody response is raised. This means that people will need to be made aware that protection will only start after two doses.'