Trump 'offers large sums' for exclusive access to coronavirus vaccine

German government tries to fight off aggressive takeover bid by US, say reports

The Trump administration has offered a German medical company “large sums of money” for exclusive access to a Covid-19 vaccine, German media have reported.

The German government is trying to fight off what it sees as an aggressive takeover bid by the US, the broadsheet Die Welt reports, citing German government circles.

The US president had offered the Tübingen-based biopharmaceutical company CureVac “large sums of money” to gain exclusive access to their work.

According to an anonymous source quoted in the newspaper, Trump was doing everything to secure a vaccine against the coronavirus for the US, “but for the US only”.

The German government was reportedly offering its own financial incentives for the vaccine to stay in the country.

The German health minister Jens Spahn said that a takeover of the CureVac company by the Trump administration was “off the table”. CureVac would only develop vaccine “for the whole world”, Spahn said, “not for individual countries”.

Earlier, when approached about the report by the Guardian, the German health ministry would only confirm the accuracy of the quotes attributed to one of its spokespersons in the article.

“The federal government is very interested in vaccines and antiviral agents against the novel coronavirus being developed in Germany and Europe,” the spokesperson quoted in the original article had said. “In this regard the government is in an intensive exchange with the company CureVac.”

The German health ministry spokesperson declined the opportunity to correct any inaccuracies in Die Welt’s account.

With its headquarters in the south-western German city of Tübingen, CureVac also has sites in Frankfurt and Boston in the US. Linked with the German health ministry, it works closely with the Paul Ehrlich Institute, a research institution and medical regulatory body that is subordinate to the German health ministry.

On 11 March, CureVac released a statement that its CEO, the US citizen Daniel Menichella, was unexpectedly leaving the firm and would be replaced by the company’s founder, Ingmar Hoerr.

At the start of the month, Menichella was invited to the White House in Washington to discuss strategy for the rapid development and production of a coronavirus vaccine with Trump, the vice-president, Mike Pence, and members of the White House coronavirus task force.

 

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