The French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi now assured its potential coronavirus vaccine would be available simultaneously worldwide, not just in the US first.
“There will be no particular advance given to any country,” Serge Weinberg told France 2 television.
“We are organised with several manufacturing units. Some of them are in the United States, but even more of them are in Europe and France,” he said.
Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson earlier said the US government had “the right to the largest pre-order because it’s invested in taking the risk.”
The comment garnered massive criticisms from health experts and world leaders.
“The comments of our CEO have been altered. We consider vaccines as a common good,” Weinberg said, defending Hudson’s remark.
French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe meanwhile responded by saying access for all was “non-negotiable”.
Prime Minister Philippe said he spoke to Weinberg and received “all the necessary assurance regarding the distribution of an eventual Sanofi vaccine.”
Sanofi operates 73 industrial locations in 32 countries. As of now, there is no vaccine approved yet against severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS–CoV–2), the virus that causes COVID-19.
Sanofi coronavirus vaccine
The US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (Barda) partly funded Sanofi’s Covid-19 vaccine research. However, Sanofi also received millions of euros in tax credits from the French government to help its other studies.
The Socialists estimated that giant pharmaceutical company received some €150m (£133m; $162m) in research tax credit and millions more in other tax credit.
Olivier Bogillot, Sanofi’s chief in France, said the goal was to have a vaccine “available to the US as well as France and Europe at the same time”.
But speaking on French news channel BFMTV, he said this would only be possible “if Europeans work as quickly as the Americans.” He added that the US government had pledged to spend “several hundreds of millions of euros”.
Leaders worldwide demanded on Thursday that any COVID-19 vaccine and treatment should be free and available to everyone.
South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, together with more than 140 world leaders signed a letter insisting any COVID-19 vaccine should not be patented.
“Governments and international partners must unite around a global guarantee which ensures that, when a safe and effective vaccine is developed, it is produced rapidly at scale and made available for all people, in all countries, free of charge,” the letter said.
“The same applies for all treatments, diagnostics, and other technologies for COVID-19.”