The CEOs of Moderna and BioNTech top the list of nine individuals who became billionaires on the back of the rollout of vaccines against Covid-19, a group advocating turning vaccine receipts into a global public good has said.
Much of the scientific research that went into the creation of effective vaccines against Covid-19 was paid for by taxpayer money, but the private companies that hold monopolies on the resulting intellectual property (IP) are the ones that reap the rewards. That situation is unjust and should be changed, argues the People’s Vaccine Alliance, which is calling for the lifting of IP protections for the vaccines ahead of a G20 summit.
Validating the point is the change in the net wealth of the individuals linked to the pharmaceutical business, the group said. Forbes data updated in April shows that nine Big Pharma figures have become dollar billionaires since the beginning of the pandemic, as the stocks of vaccine manufacturers soared with the news of robust profits.
The 9 new billionaires, have a combined net wealth of $19.3bn, enough to fully vaccinate all people in low-income countries 1.3 times. Meanwhile, these countries have received only 0.2% of global vaccine supply, because of the massive shortfall in available doses
— The People’s Vaccine (@peoplesvaccine) May 20, 2021
Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel is the richest new ‘vaccine billionaire,’ followed by Ugur Sahin, his counterpart from BioNTech. Each is now worth over $4 billion. Others on the list include three Moderna investors, the chair of a firm contracted to manufacture and package Moderna’s product, and the three co-founders of the Chinese vaccine producer CanSino Biologics.
Eight others, whose wealth had already topped the billion-dollar benchmark when the pandemic hit, have seen their wealth grow significantly. They include people linked to China’s Chongqing Zhifei Biological and Sinopharm, India’s Cadila Healthcare and the Serum Institute of India, and holders of BioNTech stock.
“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, the health policy manager at charity Oxfam,