Berlin, 16 March 2020 (dpa/MIA) – German officials Monday stressed that they favour a collaborative approach in the search for a vaccine against the novel coronavirus following reports that the US administration offered large sums to a German company working on a vaccine to make it available for exclusive use by the United States.
Citing German governent sources, Welt am Sonntag reported Sunday that US President Donald Trump approached scientists employed by CureVac, a German pharmaceutical company based in Tuebingen, and tried to lure them to work for the US.
“German researchers are leaders in the development of medicines and vaccines, in global collaborations. We cannot allow others to exclusively acquire their research results,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told the newspapers of the Funke media group on Monday.
“We will only defeat this virus together, not against each other,” Maas asserted.
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer acknowledged the report. “I can only say that I have heard several times today from members of the government that this is true and that we will discuss it tomorrow in the [coronavirus] crisis team.”
According to Welt am Sonntag, Trump offered 1 billion dollars explicitly to secure any future vaccine “only for the US.” The paper said the German government has countered the US offer with its own funds in an attempt to keep the company in Germany.
When approached for comment, the German Health Ministry referred dpa to an earlier statement made to the paper:
“The government is very keen that a vaccine against the novel coronavirus is developed in Germany and in Europe,” a spokesperson said. “The government is in intensive discussions to that end with the CureVac company.”
In a report in the Mannheimer Morgen newspaper on Monday, CureVac’s investors said they would never consider working on an exclusive vaccine for the United States.
In Washington, a senior US official Sunday said “we are unaware of this report or the underlying information.”