French President Emmanuel Macron says all French people willing to be vaccinated against COVID-19 will be offered a vaccine by mid-year.
Macron also told TF1 television on Tuesdy that because the virus is evolving quickly, pharmaceutical companies needed to start preparing now for vaccines needed this winter and early next year.
He said by the end of February through early March production of COVID-19 vaccines in France will start and there will eventually be four different production centres.
He further said vaccines must be supplied to poorer developing countries, notably Africa and Latin America.
"We must think about developing countries because if we do not vaccinate there too, the virus will circulate there and mutate, and it will strike unjustly the poorest people, and then the virus will come back to our countries."
Macron said the major constraint today was not intellectual property but production capacity and that companies who invented the vaccines must link up with those who can help them boost output, while respecting intellectual property rights.
" We are now converting sites in Europe to produce vaccines. Sanofi will convert a site in Germany in coming months to produce (COVID-19 vaccines)," he said.
He added that the 27-nation European Union so far had ordered a supply of about 2.4 billion vaccines. Some EU member states have sharply criticised the slow rollout of vaccination programs within the bloc.
Asked about Russia's Sputnik V vaccine, Macron said a few weeks ago he had sent a scientific mission to Russia and the exchanges were positive, and that there had been reports indicating the shot was effective against COVID-19.
"But in order to approve a vaccine, a request to market it must first be made. The minute a request is made, European and national authorities will study this independently and, depending on the results, approve it or not. It is not a political decision but a scientific decision," he said.