The British CEO of French pharmaceutical company Sanofi, Paul Hudson, who caused a massive row when he said that the United States would be the first to receive any potential COVID-19
vaccine from the company, has sent an apology to colleagues over the gaff.
The British CEO of Sanofi sent the note entitled “A message from Paul” to his colleagues on Thursday evening and it has now been leaked to the media.
In it, the British CEO of Sanofi said that he had been misunderstood.
He wrote: “The past 24 hours have been long.”
He then discussed the article published by Bloomberg, which he said “incorrectly suggested” that Sanofi would favour the United States regarding a possible vaccine.
The day before, the American press agency had published an interview with Hudson in which the latter affirmed that the American government had “the right to the biggest pre-orders” because of its risk in the search for a vaccine alongside the pharmaceutical giant.
The United States, which has invested millions to support research, “will get the vaccines first,” according to the chief executive, as quoted by Bloomberg that then added him saying “they have invested to try to protect their people.”
He reportedly said that the United States would get their supplies a few days or weeks ahead of the rest of the world.
Hudson said in his email: “The article has created great controversy in several countries, particularly in France and Germany. What I learned today is that trying to do or say the right thing doesn’t always lead to the right result.”
The British citizen then recognised his “responsibility” in the controversy. He said: “I would like to apologise to each of you for the delicate situation in which I have put you today regarding our customers, governments, but also members of your family or friends.”
He concluded: “Developing and producing a vaccine can take up to 10 years, our ambition is to do it in 18 months. To be very clear, if we were to succeed, we wouldn’t stop before everyone had access to the vaccine they need, everywhere in the world.”
And he thanked his collaborators for their “constant commitment”.
The interview published by Bloomberg not only caused international outrage but also problems within the company. In separate press releases, the CFDT and CGT unions in the pharmacy branch of Sanofi demanded a vaccine “for everyone” against COVID-19.
Deeming “the unbearable” statement by the director-general, “a reflection of a purely financial vision”, the CFF-CFDT said that “all citizens of the world must have access to a vaccine when it becomes available”. For their part, “the Fnic-CGT and the CGT of Sanofi unions do not accept the principle of favouring one country over another for access to medicines or vaccines”.
In response to Paul Hudson’s words, French President Emmanuel Macron called for this vaccine to be “extracted from the laws of the market”, while Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said that “the equal access of all to the vaccine is not negotiable”.
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