PARIS – French President Emmanuel Macron said Thursday that he was “absolutely in favour” of a global waiver on patent protection for Covid-19 vaccines, adding his voice to a campaign backed by US President Joe Biden.
Macron’s statement marked a shift for France, which had previously opposed such a move as likely to discourage innovation and argued that patents should be waived only as a last resort.
No French pharmaceutical company has managed to develop an approved Covid-19 vaccine so far.
Macron also said his country’s vaccination campaign would be stepped up, saying that unused shots could be snapped up by all adults starting next week, irrespective of their health status.
Under current rules, vaccines are available only to over-55s or people with chronic health problems.
“We don’t want even a single dose to go to waste,” Macron said as he opened the capital’s biggest vaccination centre, run by the fire brigade at Porte de Versailles.
But Macron also chided Britain and the US for not exporting doses to countries short on vaccines, unlike European nations.
“Of the doses we have produced, around 65 million have been used by us and 45 million have been exported. Of the doses produced for example by the British or Americans, zero doses have gone abroad,” he said.
Macron also said the planned date from which people in France over 50 could book a vaccine appointment would be brought forward by five days, to May 10.
“The objective is obviously to continue our march at a rapid pace,” Macron said.
The government hopes to reach the 20-million mark of first vaccine doses administered by May 15, and 30 million one month later.
By Tuesday, 16.4 million people had received a first jab, representing just under one-fourth of the population, and 7.3 million of the total have also had a second dose.
France expects to take delivery of 4.5 million new vaccine doses per week in May and 6.9 million per week in June.