Medicine
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  • President Donald Trump reportedly tried to poach German scientists working on a cure for the coronavirus so he could secure exclusive rights to a potential vaccine for the US only.
  • Newspaper WELT am Sonntag reported that Trump's administration had offered large sums of cash to Germany-based biotech company CureVac to secure rights for the vaccine work, "but only for the USA."
  • The German government is battling back, offering financial incentives to the company to remain in Germany.
  • Karl Lauterbach, a senior German politician and professor of epidemiology, said in response to the report: "The exclusive sale of a possible vaccine to the USA must be prevented by all means. Capitalism has limits."
  • CureVac said it has been in contact with many organisations and global authorities, but denied "rumours of an acquisition" in a statement Sunday to Business Insider.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

President Donald Trump reportedly tried to recruit German scientists working on a cure for the coronavirus and offered large sums of money to secure exclusive rights to their work for the US, according to a report which was confirmed by the German government.

Prominent German newspaper WELT am Sonntag reported that Trump had offered large sums of money to lure the Germany-based company CureVac to the United States and to secure exclusive rights to a vaccine.

The firm works with the federally-owned Paul Ehrlich Institute for Vaccines and Biomedical Medicines on a cure for the coronavirus.

CureVac denied "rumours of an acquisition" in a March 15 statement. The biotech company said it has been in contact with many organisations and global authorities, but "abstains from commenting on speculations and rejects allegations about offers for acquisition of the company or its technology."

A German government source said Trump was trying hard to find a coronavirus vaccine for the United States, "but only for the USA."

The newspaper said the German government is fighting back by offering financial incentives to the company if it remains in Germany.

A German health ministry spokesperson told WELT am Sonntag that the government was involved in "intensive" discussions with CureVac about keeping the company headquartered in the UK.

"The German government is very interested in ensuring that vaccines and active substances against the new coronavirus are also developed in Germany and Europe," the newspaper quoted a Health Ministry official as saying.

"In this regard, the government is in intensive exchange with the company CureVac."

In a separate statement, the health ministry told Reuters that the WELT am Sonntag report was accurate: "We confirm the report in the WELT am Sonntag," a spokesperson said.

Florian von der Muelbe, CureVac's chief production officer and co-founder, told Reuters last week that the company hoped to have an experimental vaccine ready by June or July so they 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 that outgoing chief executive Daniel Menichella had been invited to the White House for a meeting with President 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.

Karl Lauterbach, a senior German politician and professor of health economics and epidemiology, said in response to the story: "The exclusive sale of a possible vaccine to the USA must be prevented by all means. Capitalism has limits."

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