Pharmaceutical giant Sanofi announced on Tuesday that it will invest €610 million in French vaccine research and production.
It came as French President Emmanuel Macron visited the company’s laboratories near Lyon.
The investment from Sanofi will include the development of a new production site north of the city and a research centre to the west.
“Sanofi places France more than ever at the heart of its strategy, to make it its centre of global excellence in vaccine research and production,” said Paul Hudson, chief executive officer of Sanofi, in a statement announcing the investment in vaccine research and production.
Hudson has previously come under fire for stating that the US government would have access to the largest vaccine pre-order due to its investment in vaccines.
Macron took the stage at a press conference after visiting a Sanofi laboratory outside of Lyon that is one of the largest sites worldwide for the research, development and production of vaccines and is the location where the new centre for research will be placed.
This investment in research and development “puts Sanofi and France [in the]fight against the virus”, Macron said.
The French state also plans to invest €200 million in infrastructure for production, research and development, Macron said.
“From Thursday, we will launch an initiative to relocalise certain critical products. Everyone during this crisis saw that certain common medicines are no longer produced in France or in Europe,” Macron said.
“This crisis showed us that we must continue to produce in our country,” Macron added. He said that medicine such as paracetamol needed to be produced in France.
Hudson, who also spoke at the press conference, said that Sanofi will focus on creating active pharmaceutical ingredients in Europe, emphasising that private and public entities needed to collaborate on vaccine production.
Sanofi’s announcement followed recent news from company AstraZeneca that that company will provide 400 million doses of the University of Oxford’s potential COVID-19 vaccine to Europe’s Inclusive Vaccines Alliance.