Nine new billionaires have emerged from the production of Covid-19 vaccines. According to figures from Forbes Magazine, their combined wealth is $19.3 billion.
Indeed, Covid vaccines have made at least nine people billionaires. Their combined wealth would make it possible to vaccinate the poorest countries, the NGO Oxfam said on Thursday.
These new fortunes have emerged « thanks to the staggering profits of pharmaceutical companies that have a monopoly on the production of vaccines against Covid, » Oxfam said in a statement issued ahead of a G20 global health summit in Rome on Friday. More to the point, these personalities owe the increase in their wealth more to the soaring share prices they hold in pharmaceutical companies.
These figures are based on the ranking of the American magazine Forbes and are published by the « People’s Vaccine Alliance », of which Oxfam is a member, which brings together organisations and personalities calling for free vaccines against Covid throughout the world. The combined wealth of the nine billionaires mentioned, 19.3 billion dollars, « would allow the vaccination of 1.3 times all the low-income countries », which « received only 0.2% of the vaccines produced in the world, in particular because of the significant shortage of available doses », according to Oxfam.
Global public good
The top two fortunes, which stand out from the rest, are held by Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel ($4.3 billion) and BioNTech CEO and co-founder Ugur Sahin ($4 billion). Eight other billionaires with « large stock portfolios » in pharmaceutical companies saw a cumulative increase in wealth of $32.2 billion.
« These vaccines have been financed by public funds and should be a global public good, » said Sandra Lhote-Fernandes of Oxfam France, calling in the statement for an « urgent end to these monopolies. The European Commission said on Wednesday that the EU would be « constructive » at the WTO to assess the lifting of patents on vaccines against Covid, which Washington wants, but that it would first propose measures to rapidly increase production.
The day before, African, European and other countries and international organisations attending a summit on African economies in Paris had called for the lifting of patents on Covid vaccines to allow their production in Africa. But « key members of the G20, notably the UK and Germany, continue to block initiatives to lift intellectual property barriers » on vaccines, says Oxfam, which also points to an « ambiguous position » of France on the issue.
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