The coronavirus epidemic killed millions of people in one fell swoop and destroyed the lves of many more, but for many in the world the pandemic was a bliss. They are the pharma billionaires whose wealth increased manifold since the beginning of 2020. The other small cluster of people who added to their already massive wealth was the Big Tech tycoons.
A new report put together by the People's Vaccine Alliance, shows that the frenetic demand for COVID-19 vaccines has powered the incredible rise of the new class of "vaccine billionaires". The report says that the vaccine billionaires amassed a combined net wealth of $19.3 billion ever since the pandemic started killing people around the world.
'Human Face of huge Corporate Profits'
According to the Global Research, the report was prepared by health and humanitarian organizations, world leaders and economists.
In addition to the new billionaires, the wealth of eight existing billionaires rose a combined $32.2 billion. This happened because they had extensive portfolios in vaccine pharma corporations.
"These billionaires are the human face of the huge profits many pharmaceutical corporations are making from the monopoly they hold on these vaccines. These vaccines were funded by public money and should be first and foremost a global public good, not a private profit opportunity," said Anna Marriott, health policy manager at Oxfam, which is part of the People's Vaccine Alliance.
The following is the list of nine new vaccine billionaires, according to the report.
- Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna ($4.3 billion)
- Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech ($4 billion)
- Timothy Springer, immunologist and founding investor of Moderna ($2.2 billion)
- Noubar Afeyan, Moderna's chairman ($1.9 billion)
- Juan Lopez-Belmonte, chairman of spanish drugmaker Rovi ($1.8 billion)
- Robert Langer, scientist and founding investor in Moderna ($1.6 billion)
- Zhu Tao, co-founder and chief scientific officer at CanSino Biologics ($1.3 billion)
- Qiu Dongxu, co-founder and senior vice president at CanSino Biologics ($1.2 billion)
- Mao Huihua, co-founder and senior vice president at CanSino Biologics ($1 billion)
Apart from these nine people who broke into the billionaires' club, a handful of existing billionaires saw their wealth soaring sky-high during the pandemic. They are mostly investors with pharma stock holdings. The likes of them include Indian billionaire Pankaj Patel, chairman of Cadila Healthcare.
Big Tech and Regular Professionals
At the same time the pandemic and the rush for vaccines also catapulted regular professionals into the big league. Patrick Soon-Shiong, is an example. His fortune came from his critical role in the US government's "Operation Warp Speed," which accelerated the rollout of the vaccines.
It is also interesting to note that the super-wealthy saw their wealth increasing significantly even as the pandemic resulted in a blood bath for the economy, especially hitting the poor hard. They are the likes of Tesla chief Elon Musk, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
The People's Vaccine Alliance says that the wealth of these people added a collective $488 billion to their fortunes since the beginning of 2020.