German Officials Hold Crisis Meeting Over Report of Trump’s Attempt to Gain Exclusive U.S. Rights to Coronavirus Vaccine

Trump pandumbic

Officials in Germany are holding “crisis meetings” following a report that the Trump administration had offered the German biopharmaceutical firm CureVac “large sums of money” for the exclusive rights to a COVID-19 vaccine “but for the U.S. only.”

The report emerged in the German newspaper Die Welt, the Guardian reported: “According to an anonymous source quoted in the newspaper, Trump was doing everything to secure a vaccine against the coronavirus for the US, ‘but for the US only’. The German government was reportedly offering its own financial incentives for the vaccine to stay in the country. The German health minister Jens Spahn said that a takeover of the CureVac company by the Trump administration was ‘off the table’. CureVac would only develop vaccine ‘for the whole world’, Spahn said, ‘not for individual countries’.”

The Washington Post adds: “Germany’s Welt am Sonntag newspaper reported Sunday that the administration wanted to secure the rights and move research and development to the United States. The vaccine would be developed ‘only for the USA,’ the newspaper said. Seehofer said the issue would be discussed in Monday’s regular coronavirus crisis committee meeting, which also includes representatives of the health ministry and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office. … Top White House aides were unaware of any communication by or offer from President Trump to CureVac, according to a White House official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to discuss the matter by name. The official cautioned, however, that Trump often has private conversations of which his staff is not aware, and therefore the official could not definitively rule out that any such discussion had occurred.”

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Saturday Night Fevers

I have something in my spirit for our nightlife folks today…

I’ve studied the AIDS epidemic for a long time. The failure of the initial response was a true nightmare, when a handful sounded the alarm only to be ignored by the government and our own community. Telling people they can’t do something is really difficult. It’s hard enough asking folks to wash their hands, I can’t imagine telling newly liberated queers not to have sex. I’ve found a deeper appreciation for those activists this week. I am also aware that we’re going to have to have the sex talk sometime soon.  I’ve also found a new love for my community (from 6 ft away). 

What’s amazed me is how fast my chosen family
got in formation this week.

80% of my chosen family are DJs, promoters, performers, artists, which also means servers and bartenders. Our entire lives (and rent) revolve around gathering. Promoters plan events months in advance, paying for flyers, videos, ads, airfare for talent, deposits for venues. Many of us pay our bills one event at a time. This nightlife economy is now looking at the calendar with creeping panic. Summer and Pride are just around the corner. It’s a scary time. 


What’s amazed me is how fast my chosen family got in formation this week. My feed is full of cancellation announcements that put our larger community’s health first, understanding we have LGBT seniors and folks with immune system issues we need to take care of and encouraging one another to break the chain of infection. I’ve seen people donating to promoters, refusing refunds for tickets, spreading correct information in a cool manner. 

There’s still so many questions about this current pandemic, and once again, we’re dealing with insane government incompetence, having to take care of our own. Yet, here we are, taking history lessons and applying them in record time. To folks that have made these tough choices, we see you, and so will history. 

We finally started to learn how to live without that other virus, and we will learn to live and be rid of this one too. There’s going to be alot of learning and changing to do, but that’s what we excel at. Our community and culture has survived for hundreds of years, and it’s always been one day at time. Keep being kind to one another. 

Leo Herrera is a queer Mexican artist, activist and writer. His work focuses on queer history, sexuality and nightlife. His latest piece FATHERS Project is a sci-fi web series that imagines AIDS never happened. Now streaming free at  Follow @herreraimages

Ed note: This is a first person dispatch from the stand-back-i’ll-pinch-myself-nope-not-dreaming present. If you have a post to share; an experience, an interaction, an expert insight, or just a great bunch of words, please send it on to [tips at towleroad dot com] with “Covid Dispatch” in the subject and maybe we can figure some of this out together.

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House Passes Coronavirus Relief Bill Which Sits as ‘Remarkably Irresponsible’ Mitch McConnell Takes 3-Day Weekend; U.S. Cases Grow to 2,179

Mitch McConnell

The House voted 363-40 to pass a coronavirus relief bill on Friday night. 40 Republicans voted against the bill.

The Daily Beast reports: ” The bill provides expanded paid sick leave and unemployment insurance for those dealing with the virus, offers free testing for all, and increases Medicaid funding for local health care systems. While Republicans initially had misgivings with proposals in the bill, GOP leaders claimed credit for forcing changes, and ultimately an overwhelming number in both parties voted in favor of the package.”

The NYT reports: “Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, said in a statement after the vote that ‘senators will need to carefully review’ the bill passed by the House. ‘But I believe the vast majority of senators in both parties will agree we should act swiftly to secure relief for American workers, families and small businesses’ he said.

As of Saturday morning, there have been 2,179 cases of coronavirus confirmed by lab tests in the United States and 48 deaths. The cases are climbing exponentially.

Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell took the weekend off. Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) blasted McConnell: “It was remarkably irresponsible and out of touch for Sen. McConnell to send senators out of town in the middle of a public health crisis before the House passed this vital people-focused legislation.”

As did Kamala Harris: “It’s pretty basic: when our country faces a serious crisis, the federal government has a duty to act. Yet despite the growing outbreak of the coronavirus, which is threatening the lives of our people and testing the strength of our economy, Mitch McConnell gave the Senate a three-day weekend.”

#WheresMitch was trending on Twitter Saturday morning as the crisis continued.

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Gay cruise accused of ‘corporate greed’ as it plans to set sail despite coronavirus pandemic

The world’s largest LGBT+ cruise line has come under fire for reportedly refusing refunds for an upcoming trip during the coronavirus pandemic.

The UK government’s latest travel advice states that people over 70 and those with pre-existing health conditions should avoid cruises after a number of ships around the world were locked down because of COVID-19 outbreaks onboard.

Several major cruise companies have cancelled trips with a full refund. Others have opted to continue running but will give a full refund to customers who choose not to travel.

But Atlantis, a cruise line that charters all-gay vacations with Celebrity, did not offer customers the same.

On March 9 Atlantis changed its cancellation policy “to provide our guests more flexibility in these uncertain times” – but it only agreed to offer customers company credit if they cancel a minimum of 60 days before their ship departs.

“We hope this temporary policy change provides you with the peace of mind that your payments are safe and that we understand your concerns,” the statement said.

It’s no consolation to those who are booked on Atlantis’ southern Caribbean cruise from San Juan, Puerto Rico, which is due to depart as planned on March 21, next Saturday.

Furious customers shared their concerns in a Facebook group set up for the cruise, with one accusing Celebrity and Atlantis of “corporate greed during the most unprecedented pandemic of our generation”.

The Caribbean cruise itinerary

LGBT+ people are more vulnerable to the coronavirus due to the prevalence of smoking in the LGBT+ community, higher rates of HIV and cancer, and barriers to healthcare. Add this to the fact that the average cruise-goer is aged 55 or older, and many customers were desperate to cancel.

One cruiser aged 73 booked the cruise with his husband, 67, before the pandemic began. “I’m requesting the ability as every other normal cruise customer has of being able to cancel, with a rain check for a future cruise,” he commented.

Others were worried about infecting loved ones on their return. “When everyone gets off the ship, we would likely be responsible for putting in danger thousands of people by carrying/spreading a virus that, while it will not kill us, could harm or kill some of our family members,” one man wrote.

Atlantis’ vice president of marketing, Jim Cone, clarified the cancellation policy to LGBTQ Nation

In an apparent contradiction of the company’s previously stated travel advice, he claimed that the cruise line will refund all customers who can’t travel to the US because of the European travel ban, those on Celebrity’s restricted list, and medical professionals who regularly work with patients.

Atlantis’ seven-day Southern Caribbean Cruise embarks on March 21 (

He said refunds will also be given to elderly customers and those with a respiratory problem or other “significant health issues”.

“We have contacted most of these guests already, but if they fall into one of these groups, they should contact Atlantis directly to make the appropriate accommodations for them,” Cone said.

“Most of these guests have travel insurance and we will work with others on a case-by-case basis.”

This information is not listed on Atlantis’ website, nor is there any advice on the risk of the ship being quarantined, or the potential need to self-quarantine after the trip.

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Drag Race UK star Crystal uses coronavirus pandemic to teach an important lesson about wealth inequality

Drag Race UK star Crystal has used the coronavirus pandemic as a vital opportunity to make an important point about wealth inequality across the world.

The coronavirus, which was yesterday declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation (WHO), has spread across the globe, and people are starting to stockpile goods. Supermarkets have reported running out of essential items, including toilet paper and soap as the virus spreads.

But Drag Race UK alumnus Crystal used the opportunity to make an important point – and to remind everyone that this sort of behaviour isn’t exactly new.

Drag Race UK star Crystal made an important point about wealth inequality as the coronavirus spreads across the globe.

“If you’re upset about people hoarding toilet paper, wait until you hear about how a tiny minority of rich people have hoarded most of the world’s wealth,” she wrote on Twitter.

The tweet has been liked almost 4,000 times, and LGBT+ people queued up to agree with Crystal’s point.

Crystal’s comment is backed up by research. A report released last year found that the world’s 26 richest billionaires own as much as the 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest section of society. Let that sink in for a minute.

If you’re upset about people hoarding toilet paper, wait until you hear about how a tiny minority of rich people have hoarded most of the world’s wealth.

So, while those rushing out to buy toilet paper aren’t exactly billionaires hoarding the world’s wealth, they are part of the same problem: they are both holding on to things that they don’t need while the poor are deprived.

COVID-19 is declared a pandemic as it continues to wreak havoc across the world.

Crystal’s comment comes as the world continues to be rocked by the coronavirus crisis. The virus is continuing to spread across the UK, where there are now 460 confirmed cases.

Meanwhile, more than 1,000 people have contracted COVID-19 in the United States. Last night, Donald Trump announced that he was banning travel from most of Europe for the next 30 days in an effort to curb the spread.

Bizarrely, the UK was excluded from this measure.

Elsewhere, Italy is on full lockdown to prevent the spread of coronavirus, and Denmark has announced that it is closing schools and universities.

The Republic of Ireland is expected to announce the closure of schools, colleges and public facilities today (March 12).

The post Drag Race UK star Crystal uses coronavirus pandemic to teach an important lesson about wealth inequality appeared first on PinkNews – Gay news, reviews and comment from the world's most read lesbian, gay, bisexual, and trans news service.

Queer beauty influencer is using the coronavirus to send a powerful message about racism

Ethan Peters created this make-up ‘mask’ to call out racism against Asian people being targeted because of coronavirus. (Ethan Peters)

Beauty influencer Ethan Peters created a striking mask look to send a message about the racist response to coronavirus.

Gay make-up artist and social media personality Ethan Peters spoke out after reading reports of racism against Chinese people being targeted because of the coronavirus crisis.

The teenager shared a video of himself creating a surgical mask-inspired make-up look to his 484,300 TikTok followers with the message: “With the coronavirus being a serious issue, racism towards Asians is more prevalent than ever.

“But viruses don’t have a racial preference. So stop being racist and wash your hands.”

@ethanisupremeeBlow this up so people get the message ???? ##coronavirus ##corochallenge♬ all of the stars edited – evintage

Ethan told PinkNews that he was inspired to speak out against racism after opening up about his own struggles as a young gay man.

Ethan gave an interview to Vice in July 2019 in which he revealed the treatment he’d endured at the hands of his school.

“It was the summer of 2017 and I’d just hit 100,000 followers,” he said.

“My [private Christian] school called me into the office and said the school board and the parents have concerns about my social media.

“Legally they couldn’t tell me to my face that it was because I was gay or that I wore make-up – which, by the way, I never wore to school – but they said [my social media activity] violates their moral conduct code.”

Ethan said that after seeing the way the article resonated with his fanbase, he was motivated “to find ways to make a positive difference using my platform”.

“The ‘mask’ is just one of many ideas I have lined up that can help make the world a better place,” he told PinkNews.

Coronavirus fuels reports of racism.

As world powers scramble to respond to the coronavirus crisis, authorities have reported a number of related racist incidents towards people of east Asian ethnicity.

On February 24 a Singapore man of Chinese ethnicity was attacked by a group of people on London’s Oxford Street, with one shouting “I don’t want your coronavirus in my country” as he swung.

In Southampton, four students reported being targeted with abuse at around the same time. One had a stone thrown at them, and was told to go back to their “f**king country”.

Another, who was wearing a facemask, was called a “f**king virus”.

Stop Hate UK released a statement on March 3 confirming it had received an increased number of calls to its helplines “from people experiencing racism, discrimination and verbal abuse, arising from perceptions that they are members of the Chinese community and therefore likely to be carriers of the coronavirus”.

“We find this deeply concerning and we want our Helpline areas to know that we are here to help, advise and reassure anyone affected by such incidents,” the group said in a statement.

“Remember – disease does not discriminate; the coronavirus outbreak is not about ethnicity, and such associations are neither helpful nor acceptable.”

Lawmaker Threatens To Beat Up Trump Jr. For Claiming Dems Want Millions Of Coronavirus Deaths

Democratic Rep. John Garamendi of California on Friday threatened a “serious altercation” with Donald Trump Jr. after the president’s eldest son falsely claimed that Democrats “seemingly hope” that the coronavirus comes to the U.S. “and kills millions of people so that they can end Donald Trump’s streak of winning.”

“He should not be near me when he says that,” Garamendi warned during an interview with MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson.

“Why not?” Jackson asked the congressman.

“There would be a serious altercation,” Garamendi replied. “That is just totally outrageous. I can assure you that there’s not a Democrat or Republican in Congress that wants anybody to be sick.”

“Don Jr. better not get close to me,” he added. “It would not be a healthy situation.”

Earlier Friday, Trump Jr. accused Democrats of politicizing the spread of the coronavirus.

“Anything that they can use to try to hurt Trump, they will,” Trump Jr. said. “But for them to try to take a pandemic and seemingly hope that it comes here and kills millions of people so that they could end Donald Trump’s streak of winning is a new level of sickness.”

A spokesperson for Trump Jr. later criticized both Garamendi and MSNBC’s Jackson and said the lawmaker should apologize for his comments. The spokesperson did not offer an apology for Trump Jr.’s own lies.

“The outrageous remarks from Congressman Garamendi were beyond the pale and should be universally condemned by Republicans and Democrats alike,” said Andy Surabian.

“Almost as outrageous as the Congressman’s comments was the lack of pushback or condemnation from MSNBC host Hallie Jackson,” he added, calling her “silence about political violence aimed towards a member of the first family…truly deafening.”

“By threatening Don Jr. with physical violence on national TV, Congressman Garamendi made clear to everyone watching that he is better suited to represent Antifa than the people of California’s 3rd Congressional district. He should apologize immediately,” Surabian said.