Tuesday, May 4th, 2021
Important raw materials are missing
US blockade endangers Curevac production
Hopefully, the Tübingen-based company Curevac will soon be contributing hundreds of millions of doses to Europe’s vaccination campaign. But the planned mass production of the preparation is in danger. Because the US is blocking the export of important materials.
According to the Tübingen-based company Curevac, the planned mass production of its corona vaccine is in acute danger due to a lack of raw materials. As a result, the US government is blocking the export of essential materials through the application of a war economy decree. “Due to the Defense Production Act, we cannot get certain goods out of the USA,” quotes the Spiegel, CEO of Curevac, Franz-Werner Haas. “We don’t always get the materials we need.”
The biotechnology company Curevac has developed a vaccine using the mRNA process, which is also the basis for the preparations already in use by Moderna and Biontech / Pfizer. The Curevac product is still in the clinical testing stage and has not yet been approved. The company expects approval from the EU Medicines Agency in May or June. Although the vaccine comes onto the market months later than the competing products, the Curecav preparation is of great importance for the European, especially for the German vaccination campaign. The company has aligned its production exclusively to the EU for 2021 and aims to produce 300 million cans by the end of the year.
How much of it will actually be available in the summer months, as hoped, is currently unclear, according to the “Spiegel” report. “We sometimes live from hand to mouth,” said Haas. “That makes it difficult to build up a large supply.” The vaccine has around 90 elements. If only one thing is missing, no production is possible. The materials withheld by the USA are therefore, for example, nucleotides or specially certified medical plastic containers. Some of them are produced by German companies in the USA.
“Subtle export stop”
According to Haas, Curevac has turned to the federal government about delivery problems. They try to help. However, political paths are not always the fastest, especially at the international level.
The federal government expressed its reluctance to the “Spiegel”. “There is no official American export ban, but a subtle one,” the magazine quoted a high-ranking government official as saying. “The US government’s supply contracts state that US production must first be supplied before it can be exported.” Another government insider said that there were talks with the US government. The Federal Ministry of Economics is in an exchange with the US embassy in Berlin, the EU vaccination task force communicates with its counterpart in the White House.
The White House did not want to officially comment on the process at the request of the “Spiegel”. High-ranking US government officials, however, emphasized that the Defense Production Act did not contain an export ban, but merely a prioritization for US government contracts if the supply of certain materials was insufficient.