This laboratory in Tuebingen, outside Stuttgart, Germany, is racing to develop a small-dose vaccine against the coronavirus.
It's operated by a private company called CureVac, which hopes it could mass-produce the treatment if it proves successful in trials.
But the potentially life-saving work done here is now at the center of an international dispute between Berlin and Washington amid reports that the United States was trying to persuade CureVac to move its research to the U.S. German government sources told Reuters on Sunday that the U.S. administration was looking into how it could gain access to a potential vaccine being developed by CureVac.
German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer told a news conference that the government’s coronavirus crisis committee would discuss the CureVac case on Monday.
(SOUNDBITE) (German) GERMAN INTERIOR MINISTER HORST SEEHOFER SAYING (ON REPORTS THAT WASHINGTON IS TRYING TO POACH A GERMANY COMPANY WORKING ON A VACCINE TO MOVE RESEARCH TO THE US) "I can only say I heard that several times today from regional members who this concerns.
We will talk about this in the crisis meeting tomorrow." Earlier, a German newspaper reported that U.S. President Donald Trump had offered funds to lure CureVac to the United States, and the German government was making counter-offers to tempt it to stay.
Responding to the report, the U.S. ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, wrote on Twitter: “The Welt story was wrong.” A U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity said: “This story is wildly overplayed... 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.” The German newspaper quoted an unidentified German government source as saying Trump was trying to secure the scientists’ work exclusively, and would do anything to get a vaccine for the United States, “but only for the United States.” The coronavirus currently sweeping the globe has infected more than 162,000 people and claimed more than 6,000 lives.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "Get it done.
We need it.
We want it fast." Trump has made and tweeted encouraging comments about the outlook for a vaccine, but has at least once been corrected by his own experts on the timeline.
(SOUNDBITE) (English) U.S. PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP, SAYING: "But if you are talking about three to four months in a couple of cases, a year in other cases.
Wouldn't you say doctor.
Wouldn't that be about right?
(SOUNDBITE) (English) ANTHONY FAUCI, HEAD OF THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES, SAYING: "A vaccine that you make and start testing in a year is not a vaccine that is deployable.
So he's asking the question when is it going to be deployable.
And that is going to be the earliest a year to a year and a half, no matter how fast you go." CureVac issued a statement on Sunday, in which it said: “The company rejects current rumors of an acquisition”.