BERLIN (AP) – Germany announced Tuesday that it is financially supporting up to 750 million euros ($ 892 million) to three national pharmaceutical companies that are developing vaccines against the new coronavirus.
Science Minister Anja Karliczek said the government has already agreed to provide € 375 million to BioNTech and € 230 million to CureVac to develop their messenger RNA or “mRNA” vaccines.
He added that talks with a third company, IDT Biologika, could be concluded soon. The company is developing a vector-based vaccine that delivers a coronavirus protein to cells to stimulate the body’s immune response.
The agreement with the three companies, which is conditional on specific achievements, would guarantee Germany 40 million doses of vaccine. The amount is in addition to other vaccine supply agreements concluded through the European Union, of which Germany is a member.
Karliczek said Germany would not take shortcuts when it comes to testing vaccines, meaning that most of the population may have to wait until mid-2021 to be inoculated. « Safety is the top priority, » he said.
Health Minister Jens Spahn added that Germany would approve vaccines that have been tested on « thousands, ideally many thousands of volunteers in phase 3. »
Spahn complained that the reports on vaccine development in Russia and China « are not always the ones that you feel are completely transparent. »
The Health Minister rejected suggestions that Germany could consider mandatory COVID-19 vaccines. « We need between 55 and 60% of the population to be vaccinated, » he said. « I am firmly convinced that we will do it voluntarily. »
Spahn added that Germany also does not intend to hoard vaccines for speculative purposes.
« I will be happy to give other countries in the world some of the vaccines that they have already secured for us by contract … if in the end we discover that we have more than we need, » he said.