First Pfizer BioNTech Covid vaccines roll off production line in France

First Pfizer BioNTech Covid vaccines roll off production line in France
The French firm Delpharm is now packaging and shipping the Pfizer vaccine for EU countries. Photo: Sameer Al Doumy/AFP
Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines were packaged for the first time on French soil on Wednesday, hailed by President Emmanuel Macron as an important step as the country ramps up its vaccination campaign.

“250 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines made in France in 2021: that’s our objective,” Macron said on Twitter.

“It begins from today with the first BioNTech-Pfizer vaccines produced on the Delpharm site at Saint-Remy-sur-Avre” east of Paris, he added.

The production represents a deal with French pharma firms, which have not yet produced a licensed vaccine, to use their facilities to increase production of vaccines in Europe.

The vaccines were made in BioNTech’s factory in Germany — they arrived in France on Tuesday, where subcontractor Delpharm is charged with putting the vaccines into vials which will then be delivered to centres for distribution.

They are not destined just for France, with Delpharm telling AFP the country would receive its proportion of allocated doses among EU states – around 15 percent.

Another company will begin filing Moderna vaccines in central France in a few days, with the Johnson & Johnson and CureVac vaccines to follow soon after.

France’s inoculation drive got off to a slow start but has ramped up in recent weeks, with the country expected to hit on Thursday its mid April target of 10 million people getting at least one dose of the vaccine.

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On Wednesday 9.7 million people had received their first dose and 3.3 million had received both doses.

The government says that every adult who wants the vaccine will be able to get it ‘by the end of the summer’.

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