Sanofi backpedals after saying U.S. will get vaccines first

May 15, 2020

Earlier this week, Sanofi CEO said the U.S. would be first in line for a COVID-19 vaccine — the French government reacted swiftly — and now the drugmaker's chairman has intervened.

On Wednesday, Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson told Bloomberg News that if the company's COVID-19 vaccine proves successful, the U.S. would have initial access because the country was the first to invest in the vaccine's research.

“The U.S. government has the right to the largest pre-order because it’s invested in taking the risk,” Hudson said.

The French government was not happy, quickly summoning the Sanofi CEO to a meeting. French President Emmanuel Macron said in a statement that any COVID-19 vaccine must be treated as a "public good for the world, and not subject to the laws of the market."

The U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority has granted $30 million for Sanofi’s COVID-19 vaccine program, but in recent years, Sanofi has received tens of millions of euros in tax credits from the French government to help research.

Sanofi chairman, Serge Weinberg, has intervened, claiming it was a misunderstanding and that all countries will received vaccines simultaneously. "The words of the director general have been distorted," said Weinberg. "We are organized with different manufacturing units, some in the United States, but the largest in France and in Europe (...) We do everything to ensure that all countries are served at the same time. There should not be the least ambiguity on our intentions." (Translated from French)