Where is Sanofi’s vaccine against the virus?

The large French pharmaceutical firm will end the year with a record profit, the result of its vaccine business and its flagship drugs. Analysts recommend buying its shares, while its earnings trade at a 50% discount. |

In Pasteur’s country, the absence of a French vaccine to stand up to the coronavirus feels like a national defeat. However, only 40% of the French were in favor of being vaccinated in December 2020, according to an Ipsos survey. Of course, distrust of vaccines is not something new.

In the past, “resistance to vaccination has meant above all a violent reaction to colonization,” Anne-Marie Moulin, historian of medicine, explained a few years ago at a conference at the Institut de France. The belief in African or Asian countries, she said, was that “perhaps they were sterilizing vaccines invented by the West and loaded with all kinds of bad intentions.”

Sanofi, the world’s third largest producer of vaccines, a company worth almost 100,000 million euros on the stock market, realized in December that the first version of the vaccine it was developing together with GSK due to an insufficient concentration of the antigen.

phase two

The French pharmaceutical company announced in January that it would restart phase two of its clinical trial and that the results will be known in May. It seems that there will not be a French vaccine until the end of 2021.

Sanofi entered 5,973 million euros for the vaccines it produced last year. Some 35% of that figure came from the injection that protects against polio, whooping cough and haemophilus type b; 41% corresponded to influenza vaccines.

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With this and the sales of its flagship drugs -Dupixent, Aubagio and Lantus- it is expected that the operating profit (ebitda) for 2021 will exceed 12,000 million euros for the first time in its history, according to the consensus of analysts collected by FactSet, a 25% more than what he earned in 2019.

The initial ambition to develop a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 “has been trapped by the difficulties that have characterized the group for a long time: internal problems and late decisions,” the newspaper L’Express published this week, in an article titled Sanofi, a French fiasco.

They also say that the French firm negotiated a partnership with Moderna in 2018, but they found it very expensive and preferred to join Translate Bio, which also works on messenger RNA.

With little debt and a recommendation to buy its shares from the market consensus, Sanofi’s profit trades on the stock market at 12.5 times, almost 50% cheaper than the 24 times average of the sector, including those pharmaceutical companies with with a market value of more than 20,000 million euros, such as Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson.

While waiting for Sanofi, the French are left to console themselves with Stéphane Bancel, the creator of Moderna, and Pascal Soriot, the boss of AstraZeneca. For Geoffroy Roux de Bézieux, president of Medef -the French employers’ association-, “French talent has not disappeared, it has simply gone to express itself in another context”.

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