Back in February, biotech firm Valneva SE’s proposed COVID-19 vaccine was touted by Boris Johnson’s government as a key plank of its ambitious, whatever-it-takes race to immunize the Brits.

The U.K. had poured millions of pounds into Valneva’s Scottish factory, secured an extra 40 million vaccine doses on top of the 60 million it had already agreed to buy, and boasted about the vaccine’s potential as a booster in the autumn. The fact that Valneva was headquartered in France, whose vaccine rollout was off to a dire start and where zero doses had been procured, was the ultimate punchline.

Now the U.K. seems to have shot itself in the foot, rather than in the arm.