EU chiefs plead with Trump after US effort to poach coronavirus vaccine from Germany firm

Amid fears that Washington was planning to poach the exclusive rights for the medicine to prevent the deadly disease, Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel begged the US President to “work together”. According to newspaper reporters, Mr Trump offered $1 billion to German biopharmaceutical company CureVac to secure the vaccine “only for the United States”. The EU Commission and Council leaders both spoke with their American counterpart during a G7 teleconference to discuss the global reaction to the coronavirus outbreak.

Mr Michel told reporters: “We expressed a very strong political will and we can see that it is very important to work together in order to develop therapies, to develop vaccines.

“We mentioned two very concrete initiatives and a very concrete proposal, and during the video conference we felt a very strong political will in order to make progress together.”

Mrs von der Leyen held separate talks with CureVac bosses in the hope of offering them a package to keep production of any coronavirus vaccines available throughout Europe.

She vowed to finance the company in their efforts to create a new medicine.

“It’s crucial to find as soon as possible the vaccine that will help the whole world,” the eurocrat added.

A Commission spokesman said the Brussels-based executive will “ensure this company can continue to operate in Europe”.

Meanwhile, the EU has announced plans to implement a travel ban for foreigners entering its Schengen free-travel zone.

Brussels will ask European leaders to sign off on the dramatic measures during a telephone summit tomorrow.

All non-essential travel into the bloc will be prevented, while plans allow for cross-border workers, medical staff and goods continue to travelling across frontiers.

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The measures could be implemented as early as Wednesday if they are agreed by EU leaders.

Boris Johnson has been invited to join the blanket travel ban, which would mean Britons are still able to travel into Europe for work.

Mrs von der Leyen said: “The UK citizens are European citizens, so, of course, there are no restrictions for the UK citizens to travel to the Continent.”

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“These travel restrictions should be in place through an initial 30-day period,” the Commission chief added.

“We know that everything that reduces social interaction also reduces the speed of the spread of the virus, the less travel, the more we can contain the virus.”

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