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New COVID Jab Approval in the UK

The UK's Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) approved a COVID-19 vaccine developed by French pharmaceutical company Valenva, multiple outlets including Reuters and The Guardian reported Thursday.

Valneva's product is the sixth COVID vaccine approved by the MHRA, and is the first whole-virus inactivated COVID-19 vaccine to gain approval in the UK.

Reuters reported that the approval comes after London scuttled a €1.4 billion ($1.5 billion) deal in September to buy the Valneva vaccine, alleging that the company was in breach of its obligations under the agreement. Valneva has denied these allegations and that it remains in talks about a settlement following the contract kerfuffle, Reuters reported. Valneva also said it was in discussions to supply up to 25,000 doses to the UK's National Health Service and frontline workers in Scotland.

Meanwhile, The Guardian notes that the MHRA is the first regulator in the world to approve Valneva's shot, which is different from other approved COVID vaccines in that it uses an inactivated whole-virus vaccine — similar to the types of vaccines that have been used for decades for flu and polio. The Guardain reported that experts have previously suggested that vaccines based on this approach may result in a broader immune response than those that only involved the spike protein, and may work better against new variants.