VIENNA (Reuters) – Nobody will get preferential access to a potential COVID-19 drug developed by vaccine maker Themis Bioscience, which is being bought by U.S. pharmaceuticals firm Merck & Co Inc, the Austrian firm’s chief executive said on Thursday.

“Merck has already demonstrated in the past… that it makes vaccines available to anybody who needs them,” Erich Tauber told Reuters on Thursday, adding a potential vaccine would be made available globally.

“It is one of the reasons why we have decided to cooperate with Merck.”

Clinical tests for the Themis vaccine, which is based on a genetically modified measles virus that delivers bits of the SARS-CoV-2 virus into the human body to prevent COVID-19.

It will start soon in France and Belgium, Tauber said, with plans to then extend to other European countries and the United States quickly.

(Reporting by Kirsti Knolle; editing by Jason Neely)