Sanofi has moved to invest €610m ($685m) to research and produce vaccine in the country of its headquarters.
The plans include spending €490m over five years to create an industrial site for vaccine production, which will be located in Neuville sur Saône. The project will create 200 jobs and will contain fully digital production modules, enabling the production of three to four vaccines simultaneously.
This method of producing multiple vaccines will allow the company to prioritize work on a specific vaccine in a ‘more timely manner’ against public health issues.
As the company references the facility bringing capacity to respond to future pandemics, this likely could aid in a similar situation to the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Alongside the modular facility, Sanofi will also invest €120m in creating an R&D center in Marcy-l'Etoile. The role of the facility will be to develop future vaccines.
The site will carry out preclinical research and clinical development at the Sanofi Pasteur site, based in the same location.
Sanofi reaffirms commitment to Europe
In the announcement of the creation of the facilities, CEO of the company, Paul Hudson, stated that “Sanofi’s heart beats in France.”
Further than this, the release outlines that Sanofi “shares the French authorities’ vision for a sovereign Europe in healthcare” and highlights that the company is the leading private R&D investor within France.
This may be in reaction to the questions that arose over the French company’s responsibility to its headquartered country – after Hudson previously stated in an interview that the US had priority for any COVID-19 vaccine the company developed.
The statement created a political backlash in France and the company later confirmed that this was not its position.
How far along Sanofi is in creating a vaccine for COVID-19 is unclear. It has already partnered with GSK to develop a recombinant vaccine, and is working alongside Translate Bio to create a mRNA vaccine.
According to Translate Bio, the two partners have a vaccine at the discovery stage for COVID-19. No additional updates have been provided on the work between Sanofi and GSK, though the latter company confirmed that it is building towards a supply of one billion adjuvanted doses of vaccine.