No vaccine yet, but already a controversy

Will Sanofi reserve for the United States the first of a possible vaccine against COVID – 19? Mentioned by the group, which refers Europe to its responsibilities, the idea provokes outrage from the French political world, even to the government which judges it “unacceptable”.

“For us, it would be unacceptable for there to be privileged access from such and such a country under […] a pecuniary pretext”, declared Thursday Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Secretary of State for Economy.

Sanofi had indeed warned the day before that it would probably reserve the first of a possible vaccine against the new coronavirus in the United States, because the American authorities have invested in its development.

The United States could benefit from an advance of several days or weeks, according to Sanofi general manager Paul Hudson, who spoke in an interview with the Bloomberg agency.

These declarations provoked a series of 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 nationalization and calling on the government to action.

In the second, Marine Le Pen, patron of the National Rally, asks the question: “Do we cry over the economic patriotism put in place by others [les États-Unis] or do we we too decide to do a little? ” She also underlines 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 “simply scandalous” information and criticizing “the financial motivations and the search for profits by the giants of the pharmaceutical industry “

Faced with these indignant reactions, the French government quickly adopted a firm tone, Ms. Pannier-Runacher claiming to have immediately contacted Sanofi and obtained from him the assurance that a vaccine would be accessible to all.

“Talks” with Europe

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 having to systematically access a “preference national “in the United States.

In fact, Sanofi 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 , in an interview with BFMTV.

But, in reality, this will be possible “if the Europeans work as quickly as the Americans,” he said.

The head 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.

As for the research itself, where is it? The manager of Sanofi confirmed that he was still counting on a vaccine ready by 18 in 24 months, highlighting how fast such a schedule was compared to normal.

Normally, “developing a vaccine takes ten years”, concluded Mr. Bogillot. “We are trying to speed up all the phases. “