The German daily reported that the White House attempt to relocate CareVac, a research company based in Tuebingen, was aimed at securing exclusive access to the drug when it was ready. It quoted a German government official saying the offer was to develop the vaccine “only for the United States”.
The move prompted the German government to offer its own financial incentives to keep the company in the country, the report added.
A German Health Ministry later confirmed the report to Reuters.
CureVac is one of a number of companies currently working on a vaccine for the coronavirus. Last week it said it hopes to have an experimental vaccine ready by June or July, and would push for human testing soon after.
Earlier this month, CureVac’s chief executive met with president Donald Trump and vice president Mike Pence at the White House to discuss the company’s work on a vaccine.
Daniel Menichella said he was "very confident that we will be able to develop a potent vaccine candidate within a few months.”
CureVac issued a statement on Sunday, saying it “rejects current rumours of an acquisition.”
Responding to the report, the US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, wrote on Twitter: “The Welt story was wrong.”
US officials cited by the New York Times reportedly downplayed the story. One told the newspaper that the Trump administration had spoken to 25 different companies who were researching vaccines, and that any discovery would be shared with the world.
Join our commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies