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Sanofi and its vaccine create controversy

Will French society reserve the first of a possible covid-19 vaccine in the United States? Mentioned by the group, which sends Europe back to its responsibilities, the idea provokes a series of indignant reactions and pushes Brussels to react like the French government.

Will French society reserve the first of a possible covid-19 vaccine in the United States? Mentioned by the group, which sends Europe back to its responsibilities, the idea provokes a series of indignant reactions and pushes Brussels to react like the French government.

(AFP) – “The covid-19 vaccine must be a public good and its access must be equitable and universal,” a spokesman for the European Commission said on Thursday, Stefan de Keersmaecker, the day after comments made by Sanofi. For the French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, “Equal access for all to the vaccine is not negotiable”. The group had, in fact, warned the day before that it would probably book in the United States the first fruit of a possible vaccine against the new coronavirus, because the American authorities have invested in its development.

The United States could thus benefit from an advance of several days or weeks, according to Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson. These statements aroused indignant reactions in the French political world, from the left opposition to that of the extreme right. In the first camp, the leader of the socialists, Olivier Faure, denounced the “games of the market”, evoking the merits of a nationalization. In the second, Marine Le Pen, patron of the National Rally, called for “economic patriotism”, judging that Sanofi “is no longer a French company”. In fact, the group’s shareholders are more than 60% foreign investors.

The controversy also overflowed from the political world, the militant NGO Oxfam rebelling against information “simply scandalous” and criticizing “the search for profits by the giants of the pharmaceutical industry”.

Faced with these indignant reactions, the Secretary of State for the Economy, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, and her health colleague Olivier Véran, assured having contacted Sanofi and obtained from him the guarantee that a vaccine would be accessible to all.

This is also the message the group has been repeating since Wednesday evening, assuring that there is no concern that some countries will be deprived of such treatment. In fact, the world “will not be destitute” if a laboratory like Sanofi finds a vaccine, approved the virologist Bruno Lina, member of the French scientific council, while regretting to have to systematically access a “national preference” in the United States .

“Talks” with Europe

Because Sanofi still does not exclude the possibility of distributing a vaccine first in the United States and, only then, in other countries including Europe. Theoretically, “the objective is that the vaccine is available both in the USA in France and in Europe in the same way”, promised Thursday the boss of the group for France, Olivier Bogillot. But in reality this will be possible “if the Europeans work as quickly as the Americans,” he said.

The manager of Sanofi has therefore dismissed the European authorities from their responsibilities, stressing that the United States had already promised several hundred million euros, in addition to facilitating regulatory procedures to allow searches. “The Americans are effective at this time. The EU must be as effective in helping us to make this vaccine available very quickly, “insisted Mr. Bogillot, reporting that it is at the” negotiating “stage with the European authorities as well as countries like France and the ‘Germany.

Mr. Véran, as such, explained, during a trip to Lyon, to be working on an “alliance” with other European countries to facilitate the development of a vaccine. As for the research itself, where is it? The Sanofi official confirmed that he was still counting on a vaccine ready within 18 to 24 months, stressing how fast such a schedule was compared to normal.

In normal times, “developing a vaccine takes ten years”, “we try to speed up all the phases”. The European authority of the sector, the European Medicines Agency, it said Thursday a possible vaccine within a year, but warned that it was the most optimistic scenario in the race for vaccines.


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