BRUSSELS: The EU insisted Thursday (May 14) that any vaccine against COVID-19 must be available fairly to all countries after French drug giant Sanofi said it was reserving first shipments for the US.
"The vaccine against COVID-19 should be a global public good and its access needs to be equitable and universal," European Commission spokesman Stefan de Keersmaecker told reporters.
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Sanofi's chief executive Paul Hudson caused fury in France by announcing that US patients would get first access to a vaccine because Washington is helping to fund the research.
Ministers in President Emmanuel Macron's government slammed the move by Sanofi - a French company - as "unacceptable".
The EU organised a global fundraising effort this month for vaccine research which won around US$8 billion - but Washington pointedly refused to take part.
"For us in one word it is very important that, as the virus is a global virus, that we work on this globally," EU spokesman de Keersmaecker said.
The European Medicines Agency said Thursday that a vaccine might perhaps be ready in a year's time, but dubbed this an "optimistic" scenario.