PARIS – Vaccine controversy in France

French President Emmanuel Macron indicated on Thursday (14 May) he plans to meet Sanofi company officials next week to clear the air regarding the controversy surrounding a COVID-19 vaccine.

Earlier this week, Sanofi’s Chief Executive Officer Paul Hudson had suggested – to the dismay of the French and Europeans – that if the French pharmaceutical giant were able to successfully develop a COVID-19 vaccine, the US may obtain a first shipment of it before the rest of the world.

Company officials, meanwhile, rowed back on their statements, blaming a misunderstanding.

A vaccine must be a “common good” that stands “outside of market rules,” an official at the Elysée palace said Thursday (14 May). “Equal access to this vaccine for all is not negotiable,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Twitter.

The EU insisted all countries should receive equal access to a potential future vaccine. “The vaccine against COVID-19 should be a global public good and its access needs to be equitable and universal,” European Commission spokesman Stefan de Keersmaecker told reporters.

Officials and health experts pointed to tens of millions of euros Sanofi has received in research credits from the French state, and the pressure seems to have had an effect.

“I am going to be extremely clear: there will be no particular advance for any country,” Sanofi’s chairman, Serge Weinberg told France 2 TV, adding that Hudson’s words may have been “distorted”.

(EURACTIV.FR / Alexandra Brzozowski, EURACTIV.com)

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