The excessive profits made by pharmaceutical corporations with monopolies on COVID-19 vaccines have helped in the creation of nine new billionaires, stated the People's Vaccine Alliance. Between them, the nine new billionaires have a combined net wealth of 19.3 billion dollars, enough to fully vaccinate all people in low-income countries 1.3 times.
Ahead of a G20 leaders global health summit, the People's Vaccine Alliance, whose members include Global Justice Now, Oxfam and UNAIDS, revealed this analysis. The campaigners analysed Forbes Rich List data to highlight the massive wealth being generated by a handful of people from vaccines which were largely public funded.
Anna Marriott, Oxfam's Health Policy Manager, said, "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."
She added, "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. We need to urgently end these monopolies so that we can scale up vaccine production, drive down prices and vaccinate the world."
The alliance warned that these monopolies allow pharmaceutical corporations total control over the supply and price of vaccines, pushing up their profits while making it harder for poor countries, in particular, to secure the stocks they need.
Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS, said, "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."
She added, "The pandemic has come at a terrible human cost, so it is obscene that profits continue to come before saving lives."
List of the nine billionaires after arrival of COVID:
Stephane Bancel, CEO of Moderna (worth $4.3 billion)
Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech (worth $4 billion)
Timothy Springer, an immunologist and founding investor of Moderna (worth $2.2 billion)
Noubar Afeyan, Moderna's Chairman (worth $1.9 billion)
Juan Lopez Belmonte, Chairman of ROVI, a company with a deal to manufacture and package the Moderna vaccine (worth $1.8 billion)
Robert Langer, a scientist and founding investor in Moderna (worth $1.6 billion)
Zhu Tao, co-founder and chief scientific officer at CanSino Biologics (worth $1.3 billion)
Qiu Dongxu, co-founder and senior vice president at CanSino Biologics (worth $1.2 billion)
Mao Huinhoa, also co-founder and senior vice president at CanSino Biologics (worth $1 billion)
Meanwhile, the campaigners also stated in addition, eight existing billionaires — who have extensive portfolios in the COVID-19 vaccine pharma corporations — have seen their combined wealth increase by $ 32.2 billion, which is enough to fully vaccinate everyone in India.
In the existing list of billionaires include Cyrus Poonawalla, founder of Serum Institute of India whose wealth grew to $12.7 billion in 2021 from 8.2 billion dollars last year, and Pankaj Patel who controls listed company Cadila Healthcare saw his wealth growing to $ 5 billion dollars this year from $ 2.9 billion in 2020.
(With input from agencies)