France to produce vaccines at four sites ‘by February-March’

President Macron made the announcement during an interview last night, with three sites set to open first and produce vaccines by Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, and CureVac

3 February 2021
By Hannah Thompson

France will produce Covid-19 vaccinations at four pharmaceutical sites starting at the end of February to the beginning of March, President Emmanuel Macron has confirmed.

The President made the announcement in a surprise interview with news channel TF1 last night.

He said: “In the next few weeks, meaning the end of February to the beginning of March, we will have four sites in France producing the vaccine.

“[These sites] will gradually open and start producing,” he said.

Of the four sites, three are subcontractors, which will manufacture vaccines developed by other laboratories. These are factories belonging to the labs Delpharm, Recipharm and Fareva.

They will finalise production at the end of the manufacturing chain. Delpharm will work on the Pfizer/BioNTech jab; Recipharm on Moderna; and Fareva on the CureVac vaccine.

Of these, the first two have received EU approval, and the latter is pending.

The fourth site belongs to French pharmaceutical company Sanofi, which is producing its own vaccine, although it has announced delays of several months.

Production of this vaccine will likely begin “in the second third” of the year, the office of junior work minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher told the Agence France-Presse.

 

Veterinary vaccines

President Macron has also called for the manufacturers of veterinary vaccines to become involved in the work on Covid-19 jabs, reports news service FranceInfo today.

Representatives from several veterinary labs - alongside those from usual human labs - were present at a meeting at the Elysée Palace on Tuesday February 2, and took part in discussions on how they might add to the manufacturing effort.

Erick Lelouche, president of the French branch of the veterinary pharmaceutical company Boehringer Ingelheim, said that the firm had “already started to work on the issue and we have even already had an offer of support from one of our competitor laboratories”.

Yet, Boehringer Ingelheim said that the lab would “need adaptations, which will take six to nine months in the best-case scenario. There are technologies for certain vaccinations that are not necessarily compatible with the production tools that we [currently] have.”

But, Mr Lelouche said: “All the help that we can bring to speed up production will be useful at a given time, because I think we have started fighting a battle that will last a long time.”

He added that the company was envisaging using its production lines at its Toulouse or Lyon sites as part of the project.

Everyone vaccinated ‘by summer’

The announcement of the new sites and vaccine projects came as President Macron also said he was aiming for everyone in France who wants to be vaccinated to have received the jab “by summer”.

In a Tweet, as well as in his TF1 interview, the President said: “By the end of the summer, we will have offered the vaccine to all the adults who want one.”

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