In a recent interview with Financial Times, Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson set out to clarify some recent comments that the US would get priority access to a COVID-19 vaccine. He explained the firm’s collaboration with US research group BARDA and underscored that Sanofi is committed to bringing vaccines to all countries and all the people who need them.
We must be at the top of our game, and we must be ready. Our people are trying to bring a solution for everybody, everywhere.
Paul Hudson, Sanofi
In conversation with FT correspondent Leila Abboud at the FT Global Boardroom video conference on the 14th of May, Hudson sought to put out a recent media and political firestorm around comments he had made insinuating that the US was likely to get doses of a COVID-19 vaccine first because the US government has been financing some of the research and development work.
In response, Hudson assured viewers that he has been advocating for European readiness, but that at the same time Sanofi has been working with US-based research group Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), which, “is a biological research group that starts collaborating with the industry earlier to get people ready and make sure the necessary capacity is built and the risks are shared.”
Sanofi and BARDA have had an ongoing partnership since January of 2020 to scale up the manufacturing of vaccines in order to supply them to a large number of populations around the world, thanks to BARDA’s ability to mobilize quickly. Hudson further commented on the importance of the collaboration and how working together can save time and manage risk, “We started talking to BARDA in January and formally announced we would work on a solution around the 18th… Our studies will read out in the middle of next year, and if our vaccine is successful, we shouldn’t wait to manufacture then – we should be manufacturing earlier. If it reads out successfully, we should be ready to go to help people around the world. They (BARDA) work with us on manufacturing at-risk much earlier. When it’s hundreds of millions of doses, that’s a risk we need to share and we’re happy to take risks ourselves but that’s something we need to work on together.”
Hudson wanted to make it clear that he believed that Europe should adopt a similar model, due to the sheer magnitude of the pressing global need for a vaccine. He clarified that no one country has a priority and that Sanofi’s mission is to bring the vaccine to everyone: “My comments were around making sure we’re in a similar position in Europe. It was never a choice, we need to get vaccines to everybody across the world. We’re all going to have to play a huge part in that because if we add all the manufacturers together, it still perhaps won’t be enough. We must be at the top of our game, and we must be ready. Our people are trying to bring a solution for everybody, everywhere… We will make doses here in France, we will make doses in the US, and we will try to make more than enough for everybody.”
On the controversy surrounding his comments, he expressed gratitude for the work being done in the company and particularly France, “I’m deeply sorry there has been such a debate locally. The people behind our manufacturing, particularly here in France, are incredible. What they’ve done throughout the crisis has been sensational. I’m seeing, even after a short time, a company that operates at its very best, and that’s a testimony to how great the people are and the work they are doing, across the world, and especially here in France.”