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UPDATE 1-CureVac strikes COVID-19 vaccine alliance deal with Bayer -Bild

* Bayer to provide global network-Bild

* CureVac started mass testing of vaccine in Dec

* CureVac said it was looking for partner (Adds background on CureVac, Bayer)

FRANKFURT, Jan 6 (Reuters) - German biotech firm CureVac has agreed to an alliance with drugmaker Bayer to get global support in seeking approval for its experimental COVID-19 vaccine and for distribution, the daily Bild reported.

Under the deal, Germany’s Bayer will provide access to international pharmaceutical markets, as well as its global supply chain and distribution network, the tabloid newspaper reported in an excerpt made available to Reuters ahead of publication.

The report did not specify its sources and did not disclose financial terms.

Bayer and CureVac were not immediately available for comment outside regular business hours.

CureVac, which has said it was looking for a larger partner, last month started a late-stage clinical trial of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, banking on the same technology that has allowed rivals BioNTech and Moderna to lead the development race.

The Nasdaq-listed biotech firm, which is backed by investors Dietmar Hopp, the Gates Foundation, GlaxoSmithKline and the German government, has said it aimed to produce up to 300 million doses of the vaccine in 2021 and up to 600 million in 2022.

In March last year, CureVac was at the centre of a row over alleged attempts by U.S. President Donald Trump to gain access to the vaccine but the company denied at the time having received any U.S. offers for the company or its assets.

Ahead of any regulatory approval, the European Union has secure up to 405 million doses of the immunisation, among a slew of supply deals agreed between the bloc and other vaccine developers.

Bayer’s pharma unit, which is trying to build a new cell and gene therapy business, has expertise in cancer, haemophilia, multiple sclerosis, cardiovascular diseases and women’s health but not in vaccines.

The group’s stock has been battered by billions of euros in writedowns at its agriculture division, litigation woes and a bleaker profit outlook, in large part related to the $63 billion takeover of seed maker Monsanto.

Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Sam Holmes and Aurora Ellis

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