Sanofi walks back Paul Hudson’s promise of early vaccine access for the US — sort of

Hours after Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson told Bloomberg that the US will get first access to the French company’s Covid-19 vaccine, should it be approved, the company has put out a release walking back part of his remarks.

The company’s US production will be primarily for Americans, while its manufacturing capacity outside the US will supply Europe and the rest of the world, Sanofi said in an emailed statement.

“We have always been committed in these unprecedented circumstances to make our vaccine accessible to everyone,” they wrote. “Sanofi benefits from a diversified footprint around the world. We have manufacturing capacity in the US, Europe and all other main regions. The US production will be mainly for the US and the rest of the manufacturing capacity will cover Europe and the rest of the world.”

Hudson told Bloomberg this morning that “The U.S. government has the right to the largest pre-order” of the experimental vaccine because a US agency, BARDA, has funded development of their recombinant Covid-19 vaccine. “It’s invested in taking the risk,” Hudson said.

BARDA,  founded in 2005 to protect the US from biologic threats, has extensively funded both Sanofi and its recombinant vaccine subsidiary Protein Sciences, which is making the Covid-19 vaccine, over the last decade and a half. This spring, they invested around $30 million behind the recombinant vaccine effort.

In designating US production for the US market, Sanofi is still likely giving Americans a significant edge over the rest of the world. Although Sanofi and its partner GSK have said they are trying to increase their manufacturing capacity, Protein Sciences’ recombinant vaccines are primarily made at a BARDA-funded facility in Pearl River, New York. The company’s BARDA-funded manufacturing facility in Swiftwater, Pennsylvania will also be used. There is an additional partnership with Unigen in Japan.

In his remarks, Hudson was critical of Europe for failing to back private vaccine efforts, calling the US and China a “model” of private-public partnership. The French pharma giant said they are working on expediting the process of getting vaccines to Europe.

“The cooperation we have with BARDA in the US allows us to initiate production as early as possible while we continue to develop and register the vaccine,” Sanofi said. “In the meantime, we are very encouraged to see the mobilization of the EU Commission over the past weeks, exploring similar measures that could expedite both vaccines development and access to the European population. We are having very constructive conversations with the EU institutions and the French and German government amongst others.”

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