According to German government officials, the U.S. government tried to secure the world’s first Coronavirus vaccine.
More specifically, the German officials claim that the Trump administration offered large sums of money to CureVac, a German biotechnology firm, that has been developing a Coronavirus vaccine in an attempt to buy the exclusive rights for a potential product.
The New York Times reported that earlier in March, both President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence met with the Daniel Menichella, the then-CEO of CureVac, at the White House. (It’s worth noting that Menichella is an American citizen. Since that meeting, Menichella has left CureVac – it is unclear if he was fired or left because of the story.)
But the German firm denies the reports. In a statement to its official Twitter account, the German firm said that “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 the press.”
The German government has been monitoring the story. Last week, the German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer acknowledged that the Coronavirus outbreak is a matter of national security and that countries have to ensure that their citizens have adequate medical supplies.
Echoing the sentiments of his neighbor, the French President Emmanuel Macron said in a televised statement to the French people that “we are at war,” before announcing a series of strict measures aimed at curtailing the spread of COVID-19 in France and Europe “All infractions will be punished. There will be checks and controls in place,” added the French president.
Meanwhile, American scientists are also trying to create a vaccine in record time before the pandemic reaches the U.S. in full. According to the Associated Press, scientists at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Research Institute are in the first trial phase of a Coronavirus vaccine. And yet a vaccine available for mass production won’t be ready until the summer.
But how is a vaccine created? The Center for Disease Control (CDC) describes a six-step process for the development of a vaccine before it is allowed into the market.
- Exploratory stage
- Pre-clinical stage
- Clinical development
- Regulatory review and approval
- Quality control
When it comes to the American market, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research (CBER) has to approve any vaccine before it is sold in the U.S.
The current situation, where misinformation and the unblinking news cycle can send – and have sent – waves of panic to many, is fertile for the politicization of a vaccine. But who can blame Trump, or indeed any country leader, for trying to secure a vaccine first for his countrymen? Last time I checked, leaders are there to guarantee the national security of their country, among other tasks. And although people might be overreacting to the Coronavirus spread, a national leader can never overreact when it comes to the security of his country.