London (CNN Business)Covid-19 vaccines have created at least nine new billionaires after shares in companies producing the shots soared.
Topping the list of new billionaires are Moderna (MRNA) CEO Stéphane Bancel and Ugur Sahin, the CEO of BioNTech (BNTX), which has produced a vaccine with Pfizer (PFE). Both CEOs are now worth around $4 billion, according to an analysis by the People’s Vaccine Alliance, a campaign group that includes Oxfam, UNAIDS, Global Justice Now and Amnesty International.
Senior executives from China’s CanSino Biologics and early investors in Moderna have also become billionaires on paper as shares skyrocketed, partly in expectation of profits earned from Covid vaccines, which also bode well for the companies’ future prospects. The analysis was compiled using data from the Forbes Rich List.
Moderna’s share price has gained more than 700% since February 2020, while BioNTech has surged 600%. CanSino Biologics’ stock is up about 440% over the same period. The company’s single-dose Covid-19 vaccine was approved for use in China in February.
Activists said the wealth generation highlighted the stark inequality that has resulted from the pandemic. The nine new billionaires are worth a combined $19.3 billion, enough to fully vaccinate some 780 million people in low-income countries, campaigners said.
“These billionaires are the human face of the huge profits many pharmaceutical corporations are making from the monopoly they hold on these vaccines,” Anne Marriott, Oxfam’s health policy manager, said in a statement. “These vaccines were funded by public money and should be first and foremost a global public good, not a private profit opportunity,” she added.
The report coincides with the G20 Global Health Summit taking place on Friday at which world leaders are expected to discuss waiving intellectual property rights on vaccines.
US President Joe Biden has backed the move, which supporters say will help expand the global supply and narrow the vaccination gap between rich and poor countries. Opponents, such as Germany, have argued that protecting intellectual property is vital to innovation and say that removing patents won’t meaningfully increase supply due to limited production capacity and insufficient vaccine components.