The probable authorization of the vaccine from the American laboratory Moderna, on Wednesday, paradoxically highlights the European deficiencies in the production of drugs.

To no longer be dependent on third countries in the face of these pandemics, Europe must have a more proactive industrial policy in this area, judges the economic editorialist of Europe 1 Nicolas Barré.


This step is very important in the fight against the Covid-19 epidemic: the vaccine from the American laboratory Moderna should be authorized by the European Medicines Agency on Wednesday.

This could speed up the vaccination campaign in France, a hotly debated subject, which nevertheless obscures the ability of our pharmaceutical industry to cope with the current pandemic.

It is indeed a crucial industrial policy issue for Europe, facing the many health challenges of the coming decades.

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The lack of a proactive strategy

Experts from the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) have indeed affirmed that there would be other pandemics.

They will appear "more often, spread faster and kill more people than Covid-19".

It couldn't be better to say how much of a priority the life science industry should be.


The objective is that we are no longer dependent solely on deliveries from third countries


The Covid-19 epidemic has revealed how much we lack production capacity on our soil.

What is missing is a proactive American or Chinese industrial strategy.

In these two cases, there was a very strong impetus from the State, with significant financial resources combined with conditions imposed on manufacturers: to produce locally.

The British example

The United Kingdom, on its own scale, did a little the same thing by associating an industrialist, AstraZeneca, which had no particular expertise in vaccines but who knew how to produce drugs in large quantities, and the University of Oxford to develop an adenovirus vaccine.

It was typically an industrial policy choice on the part of the British government.

Why ?

Because this adenovirus technology, which is not exceptional, is quick to develop and quick to mass produce.

In other words, it was a good bet to ensure that we could quickly have a vaccine designed and produced in Europe.


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Above all, the objective is that we are no longer dependent solely on deliveries from third countries.

This is what is happening now: the European Commission has just confirmed options for additional deliveries for 100 million doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine and 80 million of the Moderna vaccine.

Discussions are underway between the 27 to determine their distribution.

And Brussels is finalizing a new order with Pfizer / BioNTech, with a volume of 300 million doses according to

Der Spiegel


A necessary burst

Clearly, Europe must have a strong drug industry on its soil.

An example: in France we only produce 5% of the biological drugs we need.

These are drugs resulting from biotechnology, which is booming, in particular to fight cancer.

It is not a question of technology.

We simply lack industrial sites to produce them.

Ten years ago, we were the leading manufacturer of medicines in Europe, all types of medicines combined.

Today we are the fourth.

But more broadly, all of Europe produces less and imports more.

This dependence results from the absence of an industrial policy, whereas the United States, China or to a lesser extent Russia are much more proactive.

If the Covid-19 crisis allows a leap in our life sciences industry, it will have been beneficial.