Sanofi CEO Paul Hudson told CNBC on Thursday that the pharmaceutical company is not cutting any corners in its pursuit of developing a coronavirus vaccine.
“We have been making vaccines for over 100 years. We haven’t changed anything in the way we do things, we’ve just accelerated,” Hudson said in an interview with Jim Cramer on “Mad Money.” “We need to be there. We need to be safe and effective.”
Sanofi, which is headquartered in Paris, France, is developing two potential vaccines to prevent the coronavirus. One of the vaccines is being developed alongside British firm GlaxoSmithKline and began early clinical trials on Sept. 3. Sanofi also is partnering with Massachusetts-based Translate Bio on a separate vaccine, with the aim of beginning human trials in November.
Hudson’s comments come amid concern over whether the typical, years-long scientific process for vaccine development is being jeopardized for the sake of speed during the Covid-19 pandemic. Governments across the globe have lent support to expedite research in hopes of slowing transmission of the coronavirus, which has infected about 32 million people worldwide, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. At least 978,369 people have died.
Particularly in the U.S., where the Trump administration has invested billions of dollars to help drugmakers, some worry political considerations will cloud the regulatory approval process. A recent CNBC/Change Research poll found 61% of likely voters are concerned President Trump is trying boost his reelection chances by pushing out a vaccine too early.
The logo of Sanofi is seen at the company’s research and production centre in Vitry-sur-Seine, France, August 6, 2019.
Charles Platiau | Reuters
Sanofi was among the nine American and European companies developing a coronavirus vaccine that pledged earlier this month to maintain their commitment to scientific principles. The head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration also has repeatedly sought to downplay concerns of political inference, stating he has “no intention” to overrule career scientists.
The only pressure Sanofi feels about a coronavirus vaccine is to develop one that works, Hudson said. “We don’t feel pressure. We feel pressure to get it right and maintain the standards and to play a big part in helping people get back to normal.”
While Sanofi’s development timeline is slightly behind other drugmakers such as Moderna and Pfizer, which have commenced large-scale human trials, Hudson said he was confident in the tried-and-true process the company is operating. Even before the Covid-19 pandemic, the company supplied around 1 billion doses of vaccines for other infectious diseases across the world, Hudson noted.
“Hundreds of millions of influenza doses, meningitis, yellow fever, rabies — we simply know what we’re doing,” he said. “And that’s why we’re excited about our approach in Covid-19. Let’s be frank: we’re using a platform that we use every year, so we know how to do it. We know what to do, and we’re moving at speed.”
As for when Sanofi’s vaccine candidates could be available to the public, should it prove safe and effective, Hudson said: “We’re already in human studies. We’re manufacturing doses pretty much right now, and we’ll be available some point early next year.”