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Trump’s attempt to get exclusive rights on coronavirus vaccine backfires

US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Germany protested against Trumps' reported attempts to secure exclusive rights for a coronavirus vaccine created by a German company.
US President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Germany protested against Trumps' reported attempts to secure exclusive rights for a coronavirus vaccine created by a German company. AFP - CHRISTIAN HARTMANN

Germany has reacted angrily to reports that US President Donald Trump offered German private laboratory CureVac “large sums of money” to obtain exclusive rights over a coronavirus vaccine. CureVac now indicates such a deal is off the table.

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German newspaper Die Welt am Sonntag reported on 15 March that US President Donald Trump “tries to lure German scientists who are working on a coronavirus vaccine to the US with high financial rewards.”

Die Welt, quoting “German government sources” says that Daniel Menichella, until last week CEO of Tübingen-based research lab CureVac had a meeting in the White House at the beginning of March, where he was offered “a high sum, there is talk of 1 billion US$ in Berlin,” to obtain the vaccine, “but only for the US,” reports the paper.

"Germany is not for sale"

While the White House did not immediately comment on the report, German politicians immediately protested, with economy minister Peter Altmaier saying that “Germany is not for sale”. For his part foreign minister Heiko Maas fuming that “we cannot allow a situation where others want to exclusively acquire the results of their research.”

CureVac reacted swiftly and denied that there is any exclusive deal with Washington in the making, saying in a press release on its website that the company tries to develop a coronavirus vaccine “to protect people worldwide,” and not just in the US.

Curiously, Daniel Menichella, who led the CureVac’s attempts to develop a vaccine against Covid-19 stepped down on March 13 as CEO of the company days after his meeting with Trump, to be replaced by company founder Ingmar Hoerr. No reason was given for the departure. 

Not enough capacity

On 11 March, a team of ten scientific researchers from the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam and Utrecht University say that they managed to find an antibody against an infection by the Covid-19 variant of coronavirus - the first researchers in the world to make this claim. The discovery could lead to an antiviral medication, but could also facilitate self-testing for the big public.

However, French drug producer Sanofi warns that at this moment Europe does not have enough manufacturing capacity to mass-produce vaccins that deal with pandemics such as the current coronavirus, but it says it steps up intensified research and cooperation with Paris’ public hospital system.

 

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