French labs to start producing Moderna, Pfizer Covid-19 vaccines

The French government has drawn sharp criticism over the slow pace of its inoculation drive.
The French government has drawn sharp criticism over the slow pace of its inoculation drive. © Gene J. Puskar, AP
4 min

A French lab will start producing Moderna's Covid-19 vaccine in March, while another will begin making the vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech in April, Industry Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher said Wednesday.

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President Emmanuel Macron pledged Tuesday that four sites on French soil would begin making coronavirus vaccines soon, as his government draws sharp criticism over the slow pace of its inoculation drive.

French pride has also taken a hit after its pharma giant Sanofi said its Covid-19 vaccine would not be ready until later this year.

>> 'Humiliation': French see Covid-19 vaccine flops as sign of decline

The health crisis has prompted governments to push for more widespread production of vaccines already available, overriding the industry's fierce resistance to sharing intellectual property secrets.

"Production at the first site will begin in March for the Moderna vaccine," at a lab operated by Recipharm, Pannier-Runacher told RTL radio.

"We'll then have a production site running in April for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine," she said.

"And in May, we should be producing the CureVac vaccine, for which we are awaiting approval," the minister added, referring to the German biotech firm that could start French production at a lab owned by Fareva.

A French Sanofi lab will start making the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in the second quarter, even as it pursues research on its own jab, as will the French firm Delpharm.

'No impediment' to Russia's Sputnik

Separately, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said Russia's Sputnik V vaccine could be used in France as long as it meets "scientific norms" and European "standards".

"If Sputnik is confirmed and approved by the European Medicines Agency and France's top health authority, there will be no impediment to its distribution," he told Europe 1 radio.

Russian researchers say a trial of the Sputnik V vaccine found it to be 91% effective, according to a study published by the British medical journal Lancet.

Asked about the Russian vaccine on Tuesday, Macron said he had sent a scientific mission to Russia and the exchanges were positive.

"But in order to approve a vaccine, a request to market it must first be made. The minute a request is made, European and national authorities will study this independently and, depending on the results, approve it or not. It is not a political decision but a scientific decision," he said.

France is hoping to avoid a new national lockdown as the number of coronavirus cases rises, with authorities reporting Tuesday a further 404 deaths over the previous 24 hours, as well as a new increase in intensive care cases to 3,270 in total.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

 

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