According to German officials, the Trump administration has tried to buy the exclusive rights to a possible SARS-CoV-2 vaccine that's in development by biopharmaceutical company CureVac. The offer allegedly came after now-former CEO Daniel Menichella went to a meeting at the White House with Trump, Mike Pence, and other representatives of pharmaceutical companies.
"We are very confident that we will be able to develop a potent vaccine candidate within a few months,” Menichella said in a press statement after the event, noting the company plans to start clinical trials in early summer. Last week, Menichella was replaced by Ingmar Hoerr, one of the company founders.
The news of the offer was first reported by German newspaper Die Welt am Sonntag. It noted an offer of roughly $1 billion for the potential vaccine, quoting an unnamed German government source who said that Mr Trump wanted the vaccine exclusively for the United States.
A different government source contacted by The New York Times said it was unclear whether it was for exclusive use or for the research and production to be on US soil. Other officials have said the reports are "overblown". A US government source confirmed to the AFP the administration's investments in many pharmaceutical companies but denied any interest in an exclusivity deal for the US alone.
“The US government has spoken with many (more than 25) companies that claim they can help with a vaccine. Most of these companies already received seed funding from US investors,” the official told AFP on Sunday night. “We will continue to talk to any company that claims to be able to help. And any solution found would be shared with the world.”
CureVac took to Twitter to completely deny these allegations: “To make it clear again on coronavirus: CureVac has not received from the US government or related entities an offer before, during and since the Task Force meeting in the White House on March 2. CureVac rejects all allegations from press.”
[H/T: Die Welt am Sonntag, The New York Times, AFP ]