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Did Trump offer CureVac $1bn for COVID-19 vaccine rights?

Media reports claim Trump administration tried to secure exclusive rights

Coronavirus vaccine

Media reports in Germany claim that the Trump administration offered a large sum of money to CureVac, to try to secure rights to a vaccine against the new coronavirus pandemic for Americans only.

The allegation made first in Welt Am Sonntag – which claims $1bn was put on the table to secure rights to the technology by transferring CureVac to the US – has sparked furious retorts from German politicians who insist that the country’s science base is ‘not for sale’.

Tübingen-based CureVac – which is working on a vaccine for COVID-19 based on its platform mRNA – issued a statement yesterday saying that it “abstains from commenting on speculations and rejects allegations about offers for acquisition of the company or its technology”.

German health minister Jens Spahn said there was no way that CureVac would be taken over by the US administration and that if effective the mRNA vaccine would be deployed to the benefit of the whole world, not “individual countries”.

There have also been reports of counter-offers by the German government to retain CureVac, and the topic is said to have been put on the agenda of a German health committee meeting today.

Some German lawmakers dismissed the claims as electioneering by Trump, while the official US line is that the case has been exaggerated and the government has been negotiating with dozens of companies around the world working on COVID-19 vaccines, many of whom have been granted federal seed funding.

UK response criticised as cases climb

Meanwhile, the UK has been forced to defend its decision to use a light touch in controlling the spread of COVID-19 coronavirus compared to other countries, as cases of infections escalate across Europe.

Critics suggest government decisions to only test patients who are seriously ill in hospital, keep schools and colleges open and ask people with mild symptoms to self-isolate without informing the NHS run counter to strategies adopted in other countries – including China – that seem to have helped limit the spread of COVID-19.

There have also been calls to bring forward bans on mass public gatherings and asking the over-70s to isolate as the rate of new infections and deaths from the virus gathers pace, as other countries like Italy, Spain and Germany implement lockdowns and border controls.

At last count, the UK had almost 1,400 confirmed cases of the virus and 35 deaths, with a report in The Guardian – citing a leaked Public Health England (PHE) document – suggesting that the coronavirus epidemic in the UK will last until next spring and could lead to 7.9 million people being hospitalised.

At the end of last week, government advisors were talking about getting to a level of infection in the UK that would provide ‘herd immunity’, although over the weekend health secretary Matt Hancock insisted that was not part of the government’s strategy.

Speaking BBC Radio Four’s Today programme on Friday, chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance said the aim is to “broaden the peak” of the epidemic, and also “because the vast majority of people get a mild illness, to build up some kind of herd immunity so more people are immune to this disease and we reduce the transmission”.

Australia has also taken the decision not to close schools. It argues that taking children out of that situation and keeping them in the broader community could actually exacerbate the spread of the virus, and could also reduce the availability of critical workers such as nurses and doctors who have to remain home to look after them.

Article by
Phil Taylor

16th March 2020

From: Sales

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