France said on Thursday that the world’s nations would have equal access to any coronavirus vaccine developed by pharmaceuticals giant Sanofi, a day after the CEO suggested that Americans would likely be the first in line.
U.S. President Donald Trump said he was mobilising the military to distribute a vaccine when one became available as scientists across the world rushed to find cures and treatments for a disease that has killed nearly 300,000 people worldwide.
More than 90 vaccines are currently being developed globally, with eight in the clinical trial phase. But experts say the process could take years and may not happen at all.
There is still no vaccine for HIV, which emerged in the early 1980s, or SARS, a coronavirus that hit Asia in 2002.
“A vaccine against COVID-19 should be a public good for the world. The equal access of all to the virus is non-negotiable,” French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said on Thursday.
He was speaking after comments by CEO Paul Hudson, who said in an interview with Bloomberg News on Wednesday: “The U.S. government has the right to the largest preorder because it’s invested in taking the risk.”
The comments had upset President Emmanuel Macron, an Elysee official said.
Sanofi, which has urged stronger European coordination in the hunt for a vaccine and has U.S. financial support, clarified that any such vaccine would be made available to all.
Hudson said on Thursday it was vital that any coronavirus vaccine reach all regions and he was sorry that his earlier remarks had created such a storm.
Sanofi is working on two vaccines project, one with British rival GlaxoSmithKline Plc that has received financial support from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) of the U.S. Health Department and another with U.S. company Translate Bio that will use different technology.