The UK authorities have canceled a deal with the French pharmaceutical company Valneva to buy its Covid-19 vaccination.
The move came after UK government serves notice to terminate contract over allegations of a ‘breach of obligations’
The decision was a blow to the vaccine manufacturing site in Livingston, west Scotland, which was visited by the prime minister, Boris Johnson, in January.
About 100m doses of the yet-to-be-approved vaccine are ready after the UK increased its request by 40m in February.
But in a U-turn, the government has served notice to terminate the contract over allegations of a breach of the agreement.
Scientists said that the UK might learn to live with thousands of Covid-related deaths for years to come.
The Covid-19 vaccines don’t seem to be a long term solution for the health crisis as new variants emerge, and people will have to live with it.
Seasonal waves of the virus will sweep the country every winter. It will join other seasonal viruses, including influenza. However, it is likely to kill those with underlying conditions with the provided vaccines.
The numbers of Covid cases seem to establish through this summer, but it is expected to rise again, causing a fourth wave this autumn. This is expected to occur yearly for a while.
Fourth wave this autumn
“We are going to see problems with Covid for a long time,” said Prof Adam Finn of Bristol University. “The virus has shown itself to be genetically more nimble than we expected, though not as much as the influenza virus. So I would envisage Covid being a continuing problem for some time, with annual death tolls reaching thousands and possibly tens of thousands.”
Prof James Naismith, Director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute in Oxford, has supported this view. “We won’t see Covid-19 spread like wildfire again. There will be enough herd immunity in the population to ensure it will never kick off like that again.
“But everything will not be hunky-dory. We will have waves of illness similar to flu, I think. And they will kill. The issue is: how many? That is difficult to assess, but if you look at current Covid deaths, these are occurring at about 100 a day.
“So a wave that kills a few thousand seems a reasonable measure of what you might expect in a future winter wave. And then, you might get a bad wave one year and have the tens of thousands of deaths.”
However, Prof Jonathan Ball of Nottingham University said: “I suspect numbers of Covid deaths will decrease over time as population immunity to the disease not only increases but also broadens. This is not to say we won’t have deaths every year. But to say it’s likely to be in the thousands is overly pessimistic.