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Valneva shares soar on EU deal for COVID-19 vaccine

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FILE PHOTO: The logo of Valneva SE is pictured at the company's headquarters in Saint-Herblain
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PARIS (Reuters) -French vaccines company Valneva's share price jumped more than 20% on Wednesday after it won European Commission approval for a deal under which it would supply up to 60 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate over two years.

The eighth such deal by the European Union's executive body in the fight against rising infections is a welcome boost for Valneva as it negotiates what has been a bumpy road for its COVID-19 vaccine.

"The Valneva vaccine adds another option to our broad portfolio, once it is proven to be safe and effective by the European Medicines Agency (EMA)," EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides said. "The message remains the same: trust the science, and vaccinate, vaccinate, vaccinate."

Delivery of the VLA2001 inactivated vaccine is expected to begin in April 2022, subject to EMA approval, Valneva said.

The company hopes its candidate, which uses more traditional technology than the mRNA vaccines, could be a more reassuring option for Europeans still reluctant to be immunised.

Valneva last month said that it demonstrated efficacy "at least as good, if not better" than AstraZeneca's shot in a late-stage trial comparing the two, with significantly fewer adverse side effects.

The European Commission said the contract with Valneva provides the possibility for EU member states to purchase nearly 27 million doses in 2022.

Member states can then make a further order of up to 33 million additional vaccines in 2023.

The deal includes the possibility to adapt the vaccine to new variant strains.

"We are grateful to the European Commission for its support and are eager to help address the ongoing pandemic," Valneva Chief Executive Thomas Lingelbach said in a statement.

The deal will be a relief for Valneva after the European Commission said in April that conditions to conclude a deal had not been met. Then, in September, Britain scrapped a contract for about 100 million doses of the vaccine over concerns that it might not receive approval.

Though Valneva shares have taken several hits along the way, they are up by 175% since the start of the year.

(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta, Ingrid Melander, Pushkala Aripaka and Anait MiridzhanianWriting by Ingrid MelanderEditing by Louise Heavens and David Goodman)

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