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Americans will be first to get French drugmaker’s coronavirus vaccine

Americans will get priority for French drugmaker Sanofi’s coronavirus vaccine because the US rushed to be first to give the company funding for its research back in February, chief executive officer Paul Hudson told Bloomberg. 

‘The US government has the right to the largest pre-order because it’s invested in taking the risk’ by giving Sanofi $30 million toward coronavirus vaccine research, Hudson said. 

Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that there are more than 100 vaccines against COVID-19 in development around the world. 

In the US, at least eight are being made, but the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Tuesday fast-tracked the shot being made by Modern in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

Dr Anthony Fauci said that the US needs ‘multiple shots on goal,’ and Hudson’s statement suggests that a second formidable kick is in the works. 

Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson (pictured) told Bloomberg that the US will be first in line for the French company’s coronavirus vaccine thanks to the $30 investment the government gave the company for its research 

After teaming up with another drug giant, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Sanofi has said its vaccine could be ready for human testing in the latter half of this year, while Moderna dosed its first trial participant on March 16.  

Sanofi and GSK say that, together, they have the capacity to make 600 million doses of the shot a year, but Hudson told Bloomberg he wants to double that. 

The US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) gave Sanofi’s vaccine research initiative $30 million to fund and expedite the process. 

But that figure pales in comparison to the $226 million the US gave Sanofi in December as part of a more regular investment in flu vaccine production.  

Countries have entered a vaccine race and, despite international collaborations like Sanofi’s (a French company) with GSK (a British firm), development has taken on an ‘every man for himself’ tone. 

Former FDA Commissioner Dr Scott Gottlieb warned last month that the US should not expect to rely on the generosity of other countries for a vaccine in a Wall Street Journal op-ed.  

‘The first country to the finish line will be first to restore its economy and global influence,’ Gottiieb wrote.

‘America risks being second. While friendly nations will try to share a successful product – to a point – the US can’t rely on vaccines from China or even Europe being available in America quickly.’

Experts have warned that the coronavirus pandemic won't end until there is a vaccine, and former FDA Commissioner Dr Scott Gottlieb said the US can't rely on other countries for one

Experts have warned that the coronavirus pandemic won’t end until there is a vaccine, and former FDA Commissioner Dr Scott Gottlieb said the US can’t rely on other countries for one

Sanofi is one of the companies supported by the Trump administration's 'Warp Speed' initiative to fund and expedite coronavirus vaccine research

Sanofi is one of the companies supported by the Trump administration’s ‘Warp Speed’ initiative to fund and expedite coronavirus vaccine research 

Last month, the UK had already enrolled 6,000 participants in a trial of Oxford University’s promising vaccine. 

In the US, many companies are working on vaccines, but these disparate efforts mean that investments in and eventual trials for these will be relatively small. 

The FDA last week approved a Phase 2 human trial for Moderna’s vaccine – but it is set to involve just 45 patients. 

Sanofi told Reuters it plans to start early stage human trials for its two candidate vaccines in September, and that these will enroll hundreds of participants. 

Its late stage trials are expected to take place around the end of the year, and if they’re as wide in scope as Sanofi’s previous flu shot trials, they could involve tens of thousands of patients. 

Wherever those thousands of participants may be, the US bought its way into being the first to reap the benefits. 

Hudson, a Briton, has even warned Europeans that they’ll lose out.   

‘I’ve been campaigning in Europe to say the US will get vaccines first,’ Hudson told Bloomberg. 

‘That’s how it will be because they’ve invested to try and protect their population, to restart their economy.’ 

Public health experts and the World Health Organization (WHO) have warned that pay-to-play structures for vaccine development could leave poorer countries vulnerable to ongoing coronavirus outbreaks. 

But for the time being, vaccines are priority, and whatever country can pay for the research may have an advantage, though Hudson added that the US may only get its vaccines days or weeks ahead of other nations in the end, during his interview with Bloomberg.