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Trump reportedly offered $1B to poach coronavirus vax for US use only

hostile takeover proposal — A vaccine made in Germany would be “for the whole world,” health minister said. Kate Cox – Mar 16, 2020 6:28 pm UTC Enlarge / A man pipettes a blue liquid in a laboratory of the biopharmaceutical company Curevac in Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany, Feb. 24 2020.Scientists around the world are on the…

hostile takeover proposal —

A vaccine made in Germany would be “for the whole world,” health minister said.


Closeup photograph of hands in protective gear manipulating medical equipment.

Enlarge / A man pipettes a blue liquid in a laboratory of the biopharmaceutical company Curevac in Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany, Feb. 24 2020.

Scientists around the world are on the hunt for a vaccine to protect against novel coronavirus disease COVID-19—and apparently, the Trump administration has been trying to poach some of those scientists to make the United States first to market, should a vaccine successfully be developed.

German pharmaceutical firm CureVac since January has been researching a potential vaccine for countering the novel coronavirus that is grinding daily life in dozens of nations to a halt. Over the weekend, German newspaper Welt am Sonntag reported US President Donald Trump offered CureVac about $1 billion to obtain the vaccine “only for the United States.” The report also said Germany was trying to counter-offer.

The offer “arose from a March 2 meeting” at the White House, The New York Times reported. President Trump as well as Vice President Mike Pence were in attendance for at least part of the meeting, as was CureVac CEO Daniel Menichella.

Menichella in a statement the day of the meeting said, “We are very confident that we will be able to develop a potent vaccine candidate within a few months.” The company has said elsewhere that it hopes to have an experimental product ready for human trials by June or July. Menichella himself suddenly announced his departure from the firm on March 11, after two years in the top chair.

CureVac publicly denied any takeover or acquisition attempts, saying in a statement, “The company rejects current rumors of an acquisition.” Unnamed US officials speaking with the Times and others said the reports of a takeover attempt were exaggerated.

German officials, however, confirmed the Welt report to Reuters. A spokesperson for Germany’s Health Ministry told Reuters, “The German government is very interested in ensuring that vaccines and active substances against the new coronavirus are also developed in Germany and Europe,” adding, “in this regard, the government is in intensive exchange with the company CureVac.”

Officials in Germany and around the EU reacted to the news with strong disapproval. The nation’s minister for the economy, Peter Altmaier, told reporters, “Germany is not for sale.”

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said a US takeover of CureVac was “off the table,” adding that the company would develop a vaccine “for the whole world, not for individual countries,” according to The Guardian.

Several other biopharmaceutical firms around the world, including prominent US companies, are also racing to develop both vaccines for the prevention of COVID-19 and new treatments for those who become sick with it.

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