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The four, acting on Berlin’s initiative, want to prevent the EU from losing out to the United States and China in the race for a coronavirus vaccine, the paper reported.

Efforts by US President Donald Trump to gain first access to vaccine candidates in return for billions of dollars invested in pharmaceutical companies are viewed with suspicion in Europe, the outlet added.

The United States has secured almost a third of the first 1 billion doses planned for AstraZeneca’s experimental COVID-19 vaccine by pledging up to $US1.2 billion ($1.7 billion), as world powers scramble for medicines to get their economies back to work.

Handelsblatt cited government sources as saying Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands were talking to several pharmaceutical companies, including AstraZeneca, about government research funds and purchase guarantees.

Europe must build up a “market power” in order to survive in the struggle for vaccines, Handelsblatt cited government sources in Berlin as saying.

The four were also talking to Britain, Norway, Singapore and Japan about possible cooperation.

Reuters

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