At least nine new billionaires were created by the covid-19 vaccines following surge in the shares of the companies producing the vaccines.
Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel and Ugur Sahin, the CEO of BioNTech, which co-developed producing a vaccine with Pfizer, were at the top of the newly made billionaire list. According to an analysis by the People’s Vaccine Alliance, a campaign group that includes Oxfam, UNAIDS, Global Justice Now and Amnesty International, both the top executives are now worth around $4 billion.
With share prices skyrocketing, early investors in Moderna and some senior executives from China’s CanSino Biologics have also become billionaires at least on paper. The surge was because of expectations of profits that the companies would make from Covid-19 vaccines and this also augurs well for the future prospects of the companies. Data from the Forbes Rich List was used for the analysis.
There was an almost 700 per cent surge in the stock price of Moderna since February 2020 whereas a 600 per cent surge was seen in the share price of BioNTech. Over the same period, the stock price of CanSino Biologics has increased by about 440 per cent. The single-dose Covid-19 vaccine developed by the company was approved fopr emergency usage in February in China.
The stark inequality that has resulted from the pandemic was highlighted by the wealth generation, said activists. Campaigners said that the total net worth of the nine new billionaires is $19.3 billion whioch is enough for vaccinating about 780 million people in low-income countries.
“These billionaires are the human face of the huge profits many pharmaceutical corporations are making from the monopoly they hold on these vaccines,” Anne Marriott, Oxfam’s health policy manager, said in a statement. “These vaccines were funded by public money and should be first and foremost a global public good, not a private profit opportunity,” she added.
It needs to be noted that the issue of waiving intellectual property rights on Covid-19 vaccines is expected to be discussed by world leaders at the G20 Global Health Summit taking place on Friday next week.
Then proposal of waiving intellectual property rights has been supported by the United States president Joe Biden. The supporters this move argue that will be instrumental in bridging the vaccination gap between rich and poor countries by augmenting global supply of Covid-19 vaccines.
However those opposing the proposed move such as Germany have argued that it was critical to protect intellectual property for promoting innovation. They also argue that there would not be any meaningful enhancement of supply of vaccines by removing patents because of limited production capacity and insufficient vaccine components.
High- or upper middle-income countries have got 87 per cent of all of the vaccines of the world while just 0.2 per cent has been acquired by low income countries, the World Health Organization has estimated.
The expense of vaccinating about 60 per cent of the global population will be just $50 billion, said IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath in a paper published Friday.
(Adapted from, CNN.com)