Germany is acquiring 23 percent of the biotech company CureVac for €300 million, the economy ministry said Monday.
CureVac is developing a coronavirus vaccine based on messenger RNA technology. In May, the company announced “positive pre-clinical results” that suggested its candidate is able to create strong antibody responses.
However, the company hasn’t yet entered human clinical trials, which it said it would launch in June. Other European vaccine developers like German biotech company BioNTech began clinical trials at the end of April.
The economy ministry, CureVac and its current majority owner dievini Hopp Biotech Holding, which is owned by Dietmar Hopp, announced the deal in a joint statement.
“The funds from the capital increase will be used by CureVac for the further development of the Company’s proprietary pipeline and mRNA platform technology and the expansion of business activities,” they said.
Berlin will acquire the stake via its KfW bank.
Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said the government had “decided to invest in this promising company because it expects that this will accelerate the development programs.” But he stopped short of saying whether Berlin thought CureVac was close to developing a coronavirus vaccine.
CureVac made headlines in March when Berlin said the United States had tried to purchase exclusive access to its candidate vaccine.
Asked about that episode, Hopp neither confirmed nor denied any actual offers. But he said he read about the American attempts in media reports.
“I called the then managing director and said that was out of the question for me,” he insisted.
“Germany is not for sale, we do not sell our silverware,” said Altmaier.
CureVac was also the first company to be singled out by the EU. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen highlighted its work in March and said a loan was on the way. In April, the European Investment Bank approved a a €75 million equity investment in the company.
Jillian Deutsch contributed reporting.
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