US allegedly wants to recruit German vaccine researchers

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and US President Donald Trump hold a joint press conference at the White House after their first in-person meeting. Washington, DC, March 17, 2017. [Shutterstock]

According to a report, US President Donald Trump is offering German scientists a lot of money if they come to the US. He also wants a coronavirus vaccine “only for the USA.” EURACTIV’s media partner Der Tagesspiegel reports.

The corona crisis has led to an indirect but tangible economic policy dispute between the US and Germany. As reported by the Welt am Sonntag, citing government contacts, US President Donald Trump is trying to lure German scientists working on a potential corona vaccine to the US with large financial contributions as well as to secure the drug exclusively for his country.

In response to a request from Reuters, the German Ministry of Health confirmed that the US government is interested in the Tübingen-based company CureVac, which is working on developing a coronavirus vaccine.

“We confirm the report in the Welt am Sonntag,” a Ministry spokesperson said. The Ministry of Health is also quoted as saying that the German government wants a vaccine to be developed in Germany and Europe.

According to the newspaper report, the US president is offering a large sum of money to secure the company’s exclusive work. Trump is doing everything to get a vaccine for the USA, he said. “But only for the United States,” the German government noted.

CureVac is working together with the federally-owned Paul Ehrlich Institute for Vaccines and Biomedical Drugs to produce a vaccine against COVID-19. The report states that representatives of the German government are now in negotiations with the company.

On its website, CureVac reports that Daniel Menichella, chairman of the board of directors, met with Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, members of the coronavirus task force, and other high-ranking pharmaceutical and biotech managers at the invitation of the White House at the beginning of March.

In the meeting, they discussed strategies and possibilities for the rapid development and production of a vaccine. “We are very confident that we will be able to develop an effective vaccine candidate within a few months,” Menichella is quoted on the website.

On Friday, CureVac co-founder and board member Florian von der Mülbe told Reuters that the company had started research with a large number of potential vaccines and is now selecting the two best for clinical trials. The company hopes to develop an experimental vaccine by June or July to receive approval for human trials.

“The German government is very interested in vaccines and active substances against the novel coronavirus being developed in Germany and Europe,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Health confirmed to the newspaper.

“In this regard, the government is in intensive discussions with the company CureVac.” Germany is trying to keep the company with financial offers, the newspaper reported, citing sources in the government. The company did not want to comment for the original story in the newspaper Welt am Sonntag. [AFP, Reuters]

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[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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