9 billionaires newly created by COVID-19 vaccine rush

AFP
Profits from COVID-19 jabs have helped at least nine people become billionaires.
AFP
9 billionaires newly created by COVID-19 vaccine rush
AFP

A mobile vaccination bus parks at a temporary vaccination center at the Essa academy in Bolton, northwest England on Thursday.

Profits from COVID-19 jabs have helped at least nine people become billionaires, a campaign group said on Thursday, calling for an end to pharmaceutical corporations’ “monopoly control” on vaccine technology.

The nine new billionaires have a combined net wealth of US$19.3 billion, enough to fully vaccinate all people in low-income countries 1.3 times, The People’s Vaccine Alliance said in a statement.

The network of organizations and activists campaigning for an end to property rights and patents for inoculations, said its figures were based on the Forbes Rich List data.

“These billionaires are the human face of the huge profits many pharmaceutical corporations are making from the monopoly they hold on these vaccines,” said Anna Marriott from charity Oxfam, part of the alliance.

In addition to the new mega-rich, eight existing billionaires have seen their combined wealth increase by US$32.2 billion thanks to the vaccine rollout, the alliance said.

Topping the list of new vaccine billionaires were the CEO of Moderna Stephane Bancel, and his BioNTech counterpart Ugur Sahin.

“The highly effective vaccines we have are thanks to massive amounts of taxpayers’ money so it can’t be fair that private individuals are cashing in while hundreds of millions face second and third waves completely unprotected,” said Heidi Chow, Senior Policy and Campaigns Manager at Global Justice Now, which helped analyze the billionaire data.

“As thousands of people die each day in India, it is utterly repugnant ... to put the interests of the billionaire owners of Big Pharma ahead of the desperate needs of millions.”

Manufacturers have stressed that patent protection is not the limiting factor in ramping up vaccine production.

They say a wide range of issues — from the set up of manufacturing sites, to the sourcing of raw materials, to the availability of qualified personnel — are holding up the vaccine-producing process.

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