- Germany is furious about reports that President Donald Trump offered German scientists “a billion dollars” for exclusive rights to a coronavirus vaccine to be used “only for the USA.”
- The German government said the reports were accurate.
- “Germany is not for sale,” the country’s economy minister, Peter Altmaier, told the broadcaster ARD on Sunday.
- The Trump administration, however, said claims the US would not share the vaccine had been “wildly overplayed.”
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German government ministers have reacted furiously to reports the Trump administration has tried to buy exclusive rights to a coronavirus vaccine being developed by a German firm.
An explosive report in the German newspaper Welt am Sonntag cited German government sources as saying the Trump administration offered a “billion dollars” to secure exclusive rights to a coronavirus vaccine being developed by the firm CureVac, “but only for the USA.”
The German health ministry told Reuters the report was accurate: “We confirm the report in the Welt am Sonntag,” a representative said.
Following the report, Germany's foreign minister, Heiko Maas, insisted on Sunday that the government would not allow President Donald Trump to push ahead with such a plan.
"German researchers play a leading role in drug and vaccine development, and we cannot allow others to seek exclusive results," he told the media group Funke.
"Germany is not for sale," the country's economy minister, Peter Altmaier, told the broadcaster ARD on Sunday, according to AFP.
Karl Lauterbach, a senior German politician and professor of health economics and epidemiology, tweeted in response to the story: "The exclusive sale of a possible vaccine to the USA must be prevented by all means. Capitalism has limits."
A US official told AFP on Sunday that the report was "wildly overplayed" and denied any vaccine would be exclusive to the US.
"We will continue to talk to any company that claims to be able to help," the person said. "And any solution found would be shared with the world."
Florian von der Muelbe, CureVac's chief production officer and cofounder, told Reuters last week that the company hoped to have an experimental vaccine ready by June or July so it could seek permission to start testing on humans.
He said a low-dose vaccine that the company hoped to develop could make it suitable for mass production within CureVac's existing facilities.
In a statement last week, CureVac said its outgoing CEO, Daniel Menichella, had been invited to the White House for a meeting with Trump to discuss strategies and opportunities for the production of a coronavirus vaccine.
"We are very confident that we will be able to develop a potent vaccine candidate within a few months," Menichella said in a statement.
CureVac denied "rumors of an acquisition" in a Sunday statement. The firm said it had been in contact with many organizations and global authorities but "abstains from commenting on speculations and rejects allegations about offers for the acquisition of the company or its technology."
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