Valneva in talks with potential partner on second-gen COVID-19 vaccines

Valneva logo is seen displayed in this illustration taken, May 3, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

PARIS, Sept 26 (Reuters) - French drugmaker Valneva (VLS.PA) said on Monday it is in talks with a potential partner on producing an updated version of its COVID-19 vaccine that targets new variants of the disease, sending its shares up.

The French company has struggled to bring its COVID-19 vaccine to market to compete with rival products from drugmakers such as AstraZeneca, Moderna and BioNTech/Pfizer. Its shares have lost almost 80% since peaking at the end of 2021.

Shares in the company were up 3.4% at 0815 GMT.

Valneva has won regulatory approval in the European Union and some other countries for its first-generation vaccine, but said it has suspended manufacturing in light of low order levels.

"Market expectations have been that the company would be winding down its COVID-19 vaccine activities, hence the bounce...", said Rx Securities Managing Director Samir Devani, adding that he advised investors to consider any COVID-19 activities as an upside option for the stock.

"The company is in active discussions with a prospective partner for potentially funding the development of a second-generation COVID-19 vaccine," Valneva said.

"These ongoing discussions may continue for several months and may not lead to an agreement," added Valneva.

Valneva said it would only invest in building up production capacities for a second-generation vaccine - adjusted to combat mutations of the virus - if it found a partner willing to finance the move.

The company's chief executive was cited as saying the company would provide future updates "if and when" it reaches a deal.

Reporting by Tassilo Hummel and Darmarah Mackos; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta

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