Trump tries bribing German scientists to find an “America only” cure
President Trump | AP

German government officials are expressing anger about attempts by the Trump administration to bribe German scientists into selling their work on a cure for coronavirus exclusively to the United States.

Top ministers in the government in Berlin are confirming reports over the weekend that Trump secretly offered huge sums of money so he could get exclusive access to a coronavirus vaccine currently under development in Germany.

The ministers are saying that Trump tried to bribe the German CureVac company to send its researchers to the United States where they would continue their work on a vaccine under the condition that it be “for the U.S. only.”

Germany’s Health Ministry said in a statement Sunday that the government in Berlin was “very interested in ensuring that vaccines and active substances against the coronavirus are also developed in Germany and Europe.” The implication, of course, is that they do not trust a situation in which the Trump administration in the U.S. has exclusive control over the process. There is no support overseas for Trump’s so-called “America First” approach to matters that require international cooperation, much less for an “America only” approach reflected in the president’s attempted bribery of a German company and scientists.

Germany’s Health Ministry sources confirmed to the press again today that the Trump administration had attempted to purchase control over the biopharmaceutical company. They also said that the  Berlin government is offering CureVac financial incentives to remain in Germany.

The German Interior Minister, Horst Seehofer said that the matter would be a topic of discussion at a meeting of a crisis team today.

Richard Grenell, the U.S. ambassador to Germany who is widely disliked in that country for his attempts to encourage anti-German government actions by right-wing groups in that country, has denied that any such bribery attempts have taken place.

Observers take the denial with huge grains of salt, pointing out that Daniel Menichella, Cure Vac’s CEO, was at the White House last week. It is unlikely that his visit there was just a run-of-the-mill friendly “drop by.”

Cure Vac issued a press release after that White House meeting in which it said that the CEO had told Trump about the vaccines it has developed and that it told Trump it planned to have an experimental vaccine ready by early summer.

The release of that press release caused an uproar among German lawmakers.

“The American regime has committed an extremely unfriendly act,” said Karl Lauterbach, a leading Social Democratic Party member of the German Parliament.

“No country should be able to purchase exclusive access to the vaccine,” he declared. Lauterbach said all German workers and all people around the world, for that matter, needed to have access to life-saving drugs or other measures developed in Germany.

“Capitalism has limits,” he said.


John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward, as a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee, and as an activist in the union's campaign to win public support for Wal-Mart workers. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.