(BBC) – France has said it would be “unacceptable” for French drug giant Sanofi to prioritise the US market if it develops a Covid-19 vaccine.
The government was reacting to remarks by Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson, who said “the US government has the right to the largest pre-order because it’s invested in taking the risk”.
Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said access for all was “non-negotiable”. Many labs worldwide are involved in research to find a Covid-19 vaccine.
Vaccines usually take years to develop.
“For us, it would be unacceptable for there to be privileged access to such and such a country for financial reasons,” Deputy Finance Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher told France’s Sud Radio.
The prime minister later tweeted that a vaccine should be for the benefit of everyone worldwide. President Emmanuel Macron said that recent efforts proved that a vaccine should not be subject to market forces, the Elysée Palace said. He is due to meet top Sanofi officials next week.
Earlier this month the EU chaired a global online summit to boost coronavirus research, and secured pledges of $8bn (£6.5bn) from some 40 countries and donors. The funding is aimed at developing a coronavirus vaccine and treatments for Covid-19.
The UK co-hosted the summit but the US and Russia did not take part.
The EU insisted on Thursday that all countries should get equal access to a vaccine.
“The vaccine against Covid-19 should be a global public good and its access needs to be equitable and universal,” said European Commission spokesman Stefan de Keersmaecker, quoted by AFP news agency.