As questions swirl over equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson has laid out some of his company’s plans should its program succeed, Bloomberg reports. A key point? The U.S. will be first in line.
The U.S. stepped up first to invest in the company’s research, Hudson told the news service, so it “has the right to the largest pre-order.”
In fact, the government expects to be rewarded with quick access, Hudson says, after BARDA signed on in February to collaborate with the French drugmaker.
Specifically, the U.S. expects that “if we’ve helped you manufacture the doses at risk, we expect to get the doses first,” Hudson told Bloomberg.
Sanofi’s COVID-19 collaboration with BARDA built on an existing relationship between the drugmaker and the U.S. government that has spanned pandemic influenza and a now-abandoned Zika tie-up.
Sanofi is drawing on technology from its Flublok recombinant flu vaccine for the COVID-19 vaccine work and has partnered with GlaxoSmithKline to leverage the drugmakers’ global scale. The companies are aiming to deliver hundreds of millions of doses in 2021. Aside from that project, Sanofi is also involved in an mRNA vaccine partnership with Translate Bio.
Hudson said the U.S. advantage would only be measured in days or weeks, according to the news service.
Aside from Sanofi, BARDA has partnerships with Moderna Therapeutics and Johnson & Johnson, its website shows. The agency’s $ 30 million investment in Sanofi’s work pales in comparison to its $ 456 million contribution toward J&J’s shot.
Still, in a recent Washington Post interview, J&J R&D head Paul Stoffels didn’t commit U.S. shipment timelines. He said the company intends to evaluate global needs for a potential rollout.
Recently, Hudson has been raising warnings in Europe that the “U.S. will get vaccines first,” because of its early investment, he told Bloomberg.
Another promising project underway led by the University of Oxford and AstraZeneca will give the U.K. first access to immunizations, AZ CEO Pascal Soriot has said.
Earlier this week, world leaders pledged $ 8 billion to support COVID-19 vaccine work, but the U.S. did not participate, opting to continue funding its own research partnerships instead.