'Profits continue to come before saving lives': Covid vaccines create nine new billionaires

The combined wealth of all nine comes to $19.3bn (€15.8bn) is enough to fully vaccinate some 780 million people in low-income countries 1.3 times, according to research.
'Profits continue to come before saving lives': Covid vaccines create nine new billionaires

Covid-19 vaccines have led to the creation of nine new billionaires with a combined wealth of $19.3bn (€15.8bn).

Covid-19 vaccines have led to the creation of nine new billionaires and seen the wealth of eight existing billionaires skyrocket.

Moderna appear to be the big winners with five of the nine new billionaires involved with the pharmaceutical company while three are involved with Chinese vaccine company, CanSino Biologics.

According to a study from the People's Vaccines Alliance, the combined wealth of all nine comes to $19.3bn (€15.8bn) which it says is enough to fully vaccinate some 780 million people in low-income countries 1.3 times.

Oxfam's Health Policy Manager, Anna Marriott, said the nine billionaires are the human face of the huge profits many pharmaceutical firms are making from the monopoly they hold on the Covid vaccines.

"What a testament to our collective failure to control this cruel disease that we quickly create new vaccine billionaires but totally fail to vaccinate the billions who desperately need to feel safe," said Ms Marriott.

Moderna CEO, Stéphane Bancel, tops the list with a wealth of $4.3bn with CEO and co-founder of BioNTech coming in second with $4bn.

The list includes two of Moderna's founding investors - Timothy Springer ($2.2bn) and Robert Langer ($1.6bn) - the firm's chairperson, Noubar Afeyan ($1.9bn) and the chair of a company with a deal to manufacture and package the Moderna jab, Juan Lopez-Belmonte ($1.8bn).

The vast majority of funding for the Moderna vaccine was paid for by taxpayers.

The three billionaire rounding up the list are all co-founders of Chinese vaccine company, CanSino Biologics - Zhu Tao ($1.3bn), Qiu Dongxu ($1.2bn) and Mao Huihua ($1bn).

In addition to these nine newly minted billionaires, eight existing billionaires with extensive portfolios in the Covid-19 vaccine pharma corporations have seen their combined wealth increase by $32.2bn.

The People's Vaccine Alliance (PVA) said their combined wealth would be enough to fully vaccinate every person in India.

Campaigners from the PVA analysed Forbes Rich List data to highlight the substantial wealth being generated for a small number of people from vaccines which were largely publicly funded.

Stocks in pharmaceutical firms are rapidly rising in anticipation of huge profits from the Covid vaccines over which these corporations have control.

The alliance has warned that allowing these firms to hold a monopoly provides them with total control over the supply and price of vaccines, pushing up their profits while making it more difficult for poor countries to secure the stocks they need.

"These vaccines were funded by public money and should be first and foremost a global public good, not a private profit opportunity," said Ms Marriott.

"We need to urgently end these monopolies so that we can scale up vaccine production, drive down prices and vaccinate the world."

Executive Director of UNAIDS said it is obscene that profits continue to come before saving lives during a pandemic that has devastated millions around the world.

"While the companies making massive profits from Covid vaccines are refusing to share their science and technology with others in order to increase the global vaccine supply, the world continues to face the very real risk of mutations that could render the vaccines we have ineffective and put everyone at risk all over again," said Ms Byanyima.

The PVA, whose members include Global Justice Now, Oxfam and UNAIDS, said that while the wealth of the pharma corporations continue to rise, just 0.2% of the global supply of vaccines have gone to those in low-income countries despite being home to 10% of the world's population.

Today, EU leaders agreed to donate at least 100 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines to poorer nations by the end of 2021.

Leaders also called “for work to be stepped up to ensure global equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines” and reiterated their support for the UN-backed COVAX programme.

COVAX aims to ensure equitable access to Covid-19 jabs for low-and middle-income countries.

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