15 March 2020   Leave a comment

The German newspaper, Die Welt, is reporting that the Trump Administration has tried to buy the German pharmaceutical company, CureVac, for exclusive rights to a promising COVID-19 vaccine. The Guardian reports:

“The US president had offered the Tübingen-based biopharmaceutical company CureVac “large sums of money” to gain exclusive access to their work, wrote Die Welt.

“According to an anonymous source quoted in the newspaper, Trump was doing everything to secure a vaccine against the coronavirus for the US, ‘but for the US only’.

“The German government was reportedly offering its own financial incentives for the vaccine to stay in the country.

“The German health minister Jens Spahn said that a takeover of the CureVac company by the Trump administration was ‘off the table’. CureVac would only develop vaccine ‘for the whole world’, Spahn said, ‘not for individual countries’.

Daniel Menichella, an American citizen, was the CEO of CureVac and he attended the recent meeting at the White House of biopharmaceutical companies discussing strategies for addressing the COVID-19 crisis. But he abruptly left the position, and the founder of the company, Ingmar Hoerr took his place. CureVac has been working on a potential vaccine against COVID-19 and some reports about its efforts are promising.

It is hard to assess the report since there is only one source so far (but I suspect that there will be more information forthcoming). The report, however, is deeply troubling for two reasons. First, the idea that the US would exploit a vaccine against the interests of non-Americans is reprehensible. Second, the attempt by the US government to buy a private company smacks of the dreaded “socialism” that Mr. Trump has railed against recently. We will continue to monitor the situation.

After a third inconclusive election, there has been an interesting development in Israeli politics. The leader of the Blue and White Party, Benny Gantz, announced that he had secured a one-vote majority in the Knesset. That majority, however, would include the members of the Joint List, a coalition of four Israeli Arab parties which now commands the third largest number of seats in the Knesset. No Israeli governing majority has ever included Arab Israeli parties, largely because many Israelis question the loyalty of Israeli Arabs–who comprise 20% of the population–on the issue of Israel as a Jewish state. Gantz also received support from Avigdor Liberman, the leader of the fiercely nationalist, but secular, Yisrael Beiteinu Party. It remains to be seen if Gantz can form a governing majority, but the possibility of Arab Israelis in the government is an astonishing development. In the meantime, current Prime Minister Netanyahu has gotten a two month reprieve from his upcoming corruption trial due to the exigencies of the coronavirus.

Posted March 15, 2020 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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