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Thursday, July 9, 2020

Sanofi cancels US priority for COVID-19 vaccine after French outrage

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The French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi has returned to its promise to give the United States priority access to a coronavirus vaccine it develops after a backlash from the highest levels of the French government.

CEO Paul Hudson said on Wednesday that because the United States had spent millions of dollars to support Sanofi’s work on a vaccine, they “are entitled to the biggest pre-order.” Sanofi is developing two vaccines, neither of which has yet been approved for use.

Hudson’s logic was met with outrage in France and in the European Union.

A vaccine is “a global public good, which is not subject to market forces”, according to the office of President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday.

Prime Minister Edouard Philippe echoed these feelings, Tweeter: “Equal access for everyone to the vaccine is not negotiable.”

For Philippe, it was also a question of loyalty to France. “I have just reminded Serge Weinberg, who chairs Sanofi, that this is a large, deeply French company,” he also said.

DOSSIER - On February 7, 2019, the logo of the French drug manufacturer Sanofi is represented at the company's headquarters in Paris. The French pharmaceutical group Sanofi has assured that it will make its COVID-19 vaccine, when it is ready, available in all countries, a few hours after the CEO of the company said that the United States would get first access. (AP photo / Christophe Ena, file)

The seat of the French pharmacist Sanofi seen in Paris in 2019.

Associated press


Friday, Weinberg, the chairman of the board of directors of Sanofi, spoke.

“I will be extremely clear: there will be no particular progress for any country,” Weinberg told France 2 TV.

Macron had also been “affected” by Hudson’s interview, a source told Bloomberg. The CEO of Sanofi was summoned to meet Macron next Tuesday.

Sanofi has long received funding from the United States government from the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

macron france school mask

French President Emmanuel Macron speaking with school children at the Pierre Ronsard primary school in Poissy, outside Paris, on May 5.

Ian Langsdon, Pool via AP


On February 18, Sanofi announced a new partnership with BARDA, with a new cash injection of 30 million dollars to help find a vaccine. At the time, Sanofi was already working on a vaccine, building on its research on SARS, another respiratory disease.

Hudson said Bloomberg earlier this week, because the United States was the first to fund research for Sanofi, they expected that “if we help you make the doses at risk, we expect to receive the doses first. “

Following collaboration with BARDA, Hudson said the United States could “expect to receive the doses first” in exchange for its support.

Critics of the agreement pointed out that Sanofi benefits from tax credits from the French State.

The French Socialist Party estimates that the French government has saved Sanofi at least 150 million euros, or 162 million dollars, in recent years, the BBC reported.

coronavius ​​rock vaccine 2021

A scientist working on a vaccine in Brazil.

Getty


Thursday, 140 world leaders signed an open letter requesting that a vaccine be universally available and not patented.

“Governments and international partners must unite around a global guarantee that ensures that when a safe and effective vaccine is developed, it is produced quickly on a large scale and made available to all, in all countries , free of charge, “says the letter.

Stefan de Keersmaecker, spokesperson for the European Commission, told Agence France-Presse: “The vaccine against COVID-19 must be a global public good and its access must be equitable and universal”.

A Sanofi representative told Bryan Pietsch of Business Insider Wednesday the company is committed to making its vaccine “accessible to all” if it should prove effective.

The person said that the partnership with BARDA has enabled the company to “start production as soon as possible while we continue to develop and register the vaccine”.

The vaccines would be distributed in the areas where they are produced, added the person.

Macron Thursday said it expected a vaccine to be ready by winter 2021 at the earliest.

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