Sanofi walks back pledge to grant US first access to coronavirus vaccine

French pharmaceutical group Sanofi walked back its pledge to grant the US first access to its COVID-19 vaccine once it is ready — hours after that decision stirred anger from the French government.

“I am going to be extremely clear: there will be no particular advance for any country,” Serge Weinberg, chairman of the Sanofi board, told France 2 TV.

Sanofi initially said it would reserve first shipments of its vaccine for the United States — which has already funded $30 million in research for the company through its Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.

“The US government has the right to the largest pre-order because it’s invested in taking the risk,” Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson told Bloomberg News Thursday. “It’s how it will be because they’ve invested to try and protect their population, to restart their economy.”

The French government was quick to rebuke those comments, with President Emmanuel Macron saying that any vaccine should be considered “a global public good, which is not submitted to market forces.”

“Equal access for all to the vaccine is not negotiable,” French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe tweeted Thursday.

He later wrote that he spoke with Serge Weinberg, chairman of the Sanofi board, who gave him “all the necessary assurances” that the vaccine would be distributed in France.

A follow-up meeting will be held at Macron’s office next week with Sanofi officials.

Sanofi France president Olivier Bogillot told radio network France Info that the US is expediting its regulatory requirements for the development of a vaccine.

“Europe needs to do the same thing,” he said.

European Commission health spokesman Stefan De Keersmaecker emphasized that the EU’s executive arm is “fully engaged to… advance research on promising vaccines.”

He echoed Macron’s calls for a COVID-19 vaccine to be a “global public good.”

“And its access should be equitable and universal,” he added.

With Post wires

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