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French company backtracks after saying US would get vaccine first

Sanofi’s CEO promised the United States will get first access to the vaccine, but hours later the company renounced the decision.

French pharmaceutical group Sanofi ensured Thursday that it would make its COVID-19 vaccine, when ready, available in all countries, hours after the company's CEO said the United States will get first access.

Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson's comments prompted an angry reaction from the French government.

Junior economy minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said on Sud Radio “to us, it would be unacceptable that a country would get privileged access under the pretext of money reasons.”

In a statement released Thursday, Sanofi said “we have always been committed in these unprecedented circumstances to make our vaccine accessible to everyone.”

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Sanofi said its cooperation with U.S. agency BARDA allows the company “to initiate production as early as possible.” The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority has funded the development of the vaccine.

Hudson had previously told Bloomberg news agency that the U.S. would get first access to the French company’s COVID-19 vaccine.

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

Sanofi is pushing for “similar measures” to be taken in the European Union to accelerate vaccine development and access to the population.

“We are having very constructive conversations with the EU institutions and the French and German government among others,” the statement writes.

The president of Sanofi France, Olivier Bogillot, told broadcaster France Info that the U.S. are accelerating regulatory requirements to develop and produce a vaccine.

“Europe needs to do the same thing,” he said.

Dozens of vaccine candidates in earlier stages of development are being pursued around the world, yet a vaccine is likely to be a year or more away.

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