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Commission commits €80m to German Covid-19 vaccine firm

Support comes as G7 commit to working together on research and unveil more funding

Billions of new European funding to fight the coronavirus could see €80 million channelled to the German company CureVac, which has been at the centre of rumours of an international spat over its Covid-19 vaccine work.

Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said in a statement on 16 March that “in this public health crisis it is of utmost importance that we support our leading researchers and tech companies. We are determined to provide CureVac with the financing it needs.”

The financial commitment is earmarked to help the firm scale-up development and manufacture of a vaccine against coronavirus and follows reports in the German press that Donald Trump had tried to buy exclusive access to the CureVac vaccine for the US.

CureVac has denied the story, tweeting that the company had received no offers “from the US government or related entities”.

Following huge attention on this story, an emergency video conference between leaders of the G7 nations–including Trump and European leaders–produced statements stressing a strong emphasis on international cooperation over vaccine research.

In a press conference following the G7 meeting, European Council president Charles Michel said there was a “strong political will” for acting together to develop vaccines. And in a statement the G7 said they would “increase coordinated research efforts” and each member was “committed” to “science, research, and technology cooperation.”

A first concrete commitment is the €80m the European Investment Bank would provide to CureVac as a loan guaranteed by the EU.

That comes as the EIB announced on 16 March that it is making €40 billion available immediately for fighting the Covid-19 emergency, some of which will be directed towards research on vaccines and treatments.

The bank has earmarked €5bn for public health measures and “fast-tracking of funding for companies engaged in high-risk research and development of vaccines, treatments, drugs and diagnostics”.

Both Von der Leyen and the G7 also committed to supporting the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation–the international research alliance spearheading vaccine development. CEPI has called for an additional $2 billion in funding to enable it to increase the number of candidate vaccines in clinical trials.

The G7 said it will provide “voluntary support for the global alliance Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation. We will support the launch of joint research projects funded by both public and private resources, and the sharing of facilities, towards rapid development, manufacture and distribution of treatments and a vaccine.”

This article was amended on 24 March to reflect that the CureVac loan has yet to be finalised.