A new report shows the global push to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 has spawned nine new “vaccine billionaires” who have amassed a combined net wealth of $19.3 billion.
The author of the report, People’s Vaccine Alliance, said the pharmaceutical industry’s monopoly on COVID vaccines has generated a massive increase in wealth for a handful of people.
In addition to the nine new “vaccine billionaires,” the coalition of health and humanitarian organizations, world leaders and economists said “eight existing billionaires — who have extensive portfolios in the COVID-19 vaccine pharma corporations — have seen their combined wealth increase by $32.2 billion.”
Anna Marriott, health policy manager at Oxfam, a member of the People’s Vaccine Alliance, said:
“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.”
The coalition’s list of new vaccine billionaires includes four tycoons who profited off U.S. vaccine maker Moderna, the CEO of BioNTech and three co-founders of the Chinese vaccine company, CanSino Biologics.
The nine billionaires, in order of their net worth are:
- Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, now worth $4.3 billion.
- Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech, now worth $4 billion.
- Timothy Springer, immunologist and founding investor of Moderna, now worth $2.2 billion.
- Noubar Afeyan, Moderna’s chairman, now worth $1.9 billion.
- Juan Lopez-Belmonte, chairman of spanish drugmaker Rovi, which struck a deal to make ingredients for Moderna’s vaccine, now worth $1.8 billion.
- Robert Langer, 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, now worth $1.2 billion.
- Mao Huihua, co-founder and senior vice president at CanSino Biologics, now worth $1 billion.
The eight existing billionaires whose wealth soared during the pandemic include investors with stock in pharma companies that hold a monopoly on COVID vaccines.Mutations Could Render Current COVID Vaccines Ineffective in a Year or Less, Epidemiologists Warn
The list includes Indian billionaire Pankaj Patel, chairman of Cadila Healthcare, a pharma company that makes drugs such as Remdesivir to treat COVID and has a vaccine undergoing clinical trials.
Also on the list is Patrick Soon-Shiong, a medical doctor whose COVID vaccine, ImmunityBio, was selected by the U.S. government’s “Operation Warp Speed,” a program to accelerate the rollout of COVID vaccines.
The new vaccine billionaires join the ranks of other ultra-rich elite, who also profited off the pandemic. They include Tesla’s Elon Musk, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg, Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin — all of whom made Forbes’ top 10 Big Billionaire Gains list, adding a “collective $488 billion to their fortunes since the beginning of 2020.”