Tests on a new COVID vaccine in the UK have so far shown it produces a "strong immune response", Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said.
The Valneva COVID-19 vaccine is being developed in Livingston, Scotland, and data from an early-stage phase one/two study involving 153 people showed promising results for the jab, paving the way for a phase three clinical trial.
The vaccine was safe and generally well tolerated, with no safety concerns identified by an independent data safety monitoring board.
The company said the results showed the vaccine was "highly immunogenic with more than 90% of all study participants developing significant levels of antibodies" to the COVID virus spike protein.
The vaccine also induced T-cell responses, which help the body fend off a virus and play a role in long-lasting immunity.
Mr Hancock said: "The UK government has funded these clinical trials and it is fantastic to see Valneva’s vaccine produces a strong immune response.
"This vaccine will be made onshore in Livingston in Scotland, giving another boost to British life science, and if approved will play an important role in protecting our communities.
"I look forward to seeing the results of the upcoming phase three trial."
The UK vaccination programme accelerated after Prime Minister Boris Johnson‘s appointment of Kate Bingham as the head of the government’s vaccine’s taskforce.
The group helped the government secure agreements to have access to six different vaccines including Oxford-AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson, Sanofi and Novavax, as well as the Pfizer vaccine made by BioNTech and Moderna’s vaccine – and it paved the way for speedy vaccine innovation like this seen with Valneva.
Valneva is a French biotech company which has manufacturing sites in Livingston, Solna in Sweden and Vienna in Austria.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said: "These results are very promising and provide renewed hope that a vaccine using a whole inactivated virus might provide strong protection against variants."
He said if results from the phase three clinical trials were as positive, and the vaccine met "robust standards of safety" it would become "another powerful weapon in our arsenal to beat this pandemic".
Clive Dix, chairman of the Vaccines Taskforce, said: "These are great results from Valneva, particularly around the antibody and cellular responses generated and low numbers of adverse events, as these indicate good levels of immune responses among the participants to date."