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Valneva Shares Plunge, European COVID Vaccine Deal Flounders

PARIS/LONDON, June 13 (Reuters) - Valneva's shares dived about 20% on Monday after the French drugmaker warned that the future of its COVID-19 vaccine was in jeopardy. 

Valneva has been trying to salvage a deal with the European Commission which had said it would terminate an advance purchase agreement for 60 million doses. But Valneva said on Monday that initial signs from the Commission suggested volumes would not be enough to sustain the firm's vaccine programme.

It said that if this reduced order was confirmed, it would not be able to enter into an amended agreement.

"This is clearly a disappointing development," Rx Securities said in a note, after previously forecasting more than 400 million euros ($419 million) in COVID vaccine sales, mostly relating to the contract with the Commission.

"Our forecasts no longer assume any vaccine revenues from sales to the EC," it said in a note.

Valneva's vaccine programme was hit by delays in its marketing application after the European Medicines Agency (EMA) sought more information. EMA has since then accepted the application but Valneva missed the Commission's April deadline for European approval. An EMA recommendation on whether the vaccine should be approved is now expected on June 21.

Britain's cancelled its Valneva contract in 2021, although the company has secured approvals in Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Valneva's vaccine uses technology already employed for decades in shots against polio, influenza and hepatitis. The company had bet it would entice people who had refused COVID vaccines that used mRNA and other newer technology.

But demand for a new crop of COVID vaccines is uncertain. U.S.-based Novavax's shot uses traditional technology like Valneva's but has had limited take up in Europe, with only about 220,000 doses administered out of 12.6 million distributed in the region.

Some vaccine makers, such as AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, have warned of a global COVID vaccine glut.

($1 = 0.9549 euros)

Reporting by Tassilo Hummel in Paris and Natalie Grover in London; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta and Edmund Blair

Source: Reuters

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