Berlin pumping hundreds of millions of euros into German COVID-19 vaccine developers

Berlin pumping hundreds of millions of euros into German COVID-19 vaccine developers
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The German government announced Tuesday it would provide up to 750 million euros ($892 million) to support three domestic pharmaceutical companies developing vaccines for COVID-19.

According to The Associated Press, Germany has already agreed to provide BioNTech and CureVac with 375 million euros and 230 million euros, respectively, to develop mRNA-based vaccines, Science Minister Anja Karliczek said.

A third company, IDT Biologika, is expected to begin negotiations with the country soon to develop a vector-based vaccine that sends coronavirus protein into cells to build an immune response.

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The three companies involved with the negotiations would guarantee Germany 40 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Other manufacturers across the European Union are making similar supply agreements to aid member countries.

"Safety is an absolute priority," Karliczek said, adding that Germany would not be cutting any corners when it comes to testing the vaccines.

Health Minister Jens Spahn seconded the safety priority, adding that only vaccines that have been tested on "thousands, ideally many thousands of volunteers" in phase three would be approved.

Spahn spoke about vaccine development in Russia and China, saying that vaccines developed in either country "aren't always such that one feels there's absolute transparency."

The safety measures at the forefront of German vaccine development mean that most individuals may not have access to the vaccine until mid-2021.

The University of Oxford and AstraZeneca said Sunday that trials would resume in the U.K. after one recipient experienced severe adverse side effects.

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Asked about whether vaccines will be compulsory, Spahn dismissed the issue and maintained confidence that most German citizens would opt for receiving the vaccine.

"We need 55-60% of the population to be vaccinated," he said. "I'm firmly convinced we will achieve this voluntarily."

Spahn said if additional vaccines are left over from the country's stockpile, they would be given to other countries in need.

"I'm happy to give other countries in the world some of the vaccines we're been contractually assured," he said, "if we find in the end that we have more than we need."