Sanofi Irks France by Saying U.S. Would Get Any Covid-19 Vaccine First
By Noemie Bisserbe and Denise Roland
PARIS -- The office of President Emmanuel Macron summoned the
management of Sanofi SA to a meeting next week, according to a
French official, after the French pharmaceutical company's chief
executive said the U.S. was first in line to receive any
coronavirus vaccine it develops.
Mr. Macron was upset, a French official said, over comments that
Sanofi Chief Executive Paul Hudson made to Bloomberg News on
Wednesday, saying coronavirus patients in the U.S. could expect any
doses of a vaccine first, because the U.S. had funded Sanofi's
research and development. "That's how it will be because they've
invested to try and protect their population, to restart their
economy," Mr. Hudson said.
The race for a vaccine is taking on increasingly nationalistic
tones, with some countries regarding it as a matter of national
security. The toll the coronavirus pandemic is taking on countries'
health and economic systems has made getting access to a vaccine --
widely considered the only exit strategy from the pandemic -- a
priority for governments around the world.
"A vaccine against Covid-19 should be a public good for the
world," Prime Minister Édouard Philippe wrote on Twitter on
Thursday, referring to the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
Mr. Philippe added he had spoken to Sanofi's chairman, Serge
Weinberg, who assured him of the distribution in France of any
"Evidently, if Sanofi makes a breakthrough on a vaccine for
Covid-19 and it is efficient, it will be made available to all,"
Olivier Bogillot, the chairman of Sanofi's French unit, said
The U.S. warned this week that China and Iran were attempting to
steal intellectual property related to vaccine development in
cyberattacks targeting U.S. companies and health-care and academic
institutions. The U.K., too, has said it has raised cybersecurity
defenses at a number of universities, including Oxford, to protect
The pandemic has already triggered tension, including among
allies, over access to more basic needs, such as masks and
The overwhelming global demand for any successful vaccine will
face supply constraints, raising questions about how doses would be
allocated across the globe. The World Health Organization is
pushing for a global agreement aimed at ensuring fair access to any
vaccine, and several countries -- including France, the U.K. and
Germany -- have pledged their support. But the details are yet to
be worked out, and will have to address difficult questions around
how much funding each country provides and how supply would be
prioritized across the globe.
European countries are also discussing how to create a mechanism
that would ensure countries world-wide get access to any vaccine in
a timely manner, an aide to Mr. Macron said.
Sanofi is one of the biggest competitors in a field of more than
100 coronavirus-vaccine candidates. Its vaccine is viewed as one of
the most promising, in part because it is based on a technology
used in an already-approved flu vaccine, and because Sanofi is one
of the few groups world-wide with the manufacturing capacity to
eventually churn out hundreds of millions of doses a year.
Early on in its development, Sanofi's vaccine project received a
$30 million research grant from the Biomedical Advanced Research
and Development Authority, an office of the U.S. government
responsible for preparing the nation against public-health threats
such as pandemics and bioterrorism. That grant is helping to fund
the early research and development of the vaccine, allowing it to
reach the stage of being tested in people.
The U.S. has no formal claim on the first doses of vaccine to be
manufactured. But Sanofi's agreement with Barda will speed vaccine
production at the company's U.S. plants, and that supply will
mainly go to Americans, according to a company statement. There is
no equivalent to Barda in Europe.
The statement added that Sanofi is "committed to make our
vaccine accessible to everyone" and that the company is in talks
with various European governments, including France, about vaccine
development and access. It added that it also has vaccine plants in
Europe and the rest of the world.
Write to Noemie Bisserbe at email@example.com and Denise
Roland at Denise.Roland@wsj.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 14, 2020 16:31 ET (20:31 GMT)
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