The Covid Vaccine Billionaires. Object Lessons in Profiting From a Pandemic
We know that companies like Amazon have profited from a captive audience over the last year and a half, but who else has been making money, real money, under lockdown? I did a little digging, prompted by a recent list published by Forbes in April. American billionaire wealth currently stands at $4.6 trillion, give or take a trillion or two.
That’s up 35% from $3.4 trillion on January 1, 2020, just as Covid-19 was beginning to take the world by storm.
In other words, U.S. billionaires have increased their wealth by a mouth-watering $1.2 trillion during the pandemic. As President Biden was at pains to point out during his recent address to Congress. twenty million Americans have lost their jobs over the same period.
Covid Vaccines have contributed massively to this shift in wealth. .A new report from Oxfam entitled “COVID vaccines create 9 new billionaires with combined wealth greater than cost of vaccinating world’s poorest countries” highlights the issue while underscoring mounting global pressure over vaccine disparity
Here are the names of the individuals who have profited most in the last 18 months from the production of Covid vaccines.
- 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, that 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.
According to Anna Marriott, Oxfam’s Health Policy Manager;
“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. 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.”
A record 493 new faces joined Forbes’ World’s Billionaires list this year — roughly one new billionaire every 17 hours between March 2020 and March 2021 — including 98 newcomers from the U.S. That includes famous faces like Kim Kardashian West, moviemaker Tyler Perry and Apple CEO Tim Cook. It also includes ten new billionaires who got rich riding the SPAC wave, like laser lidar mogul Austin Russell and serial SPAC sponsors Chamath Palihapitiya and Bill Foley.
The pandemic hasn't simply created or contributed to the creation of new billionaires, it has had a dramatic impact on the fortunes of established wealth. Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos lead the charge, seeing increases in their respective wealth of $144 billion and $86 billion since January of 2020.
I’ll do the math for you. That's a total accumulation in wealth of $488 billion between ten people since January 2020, hardly an amount to be sneezed at. Share that out between the 20 million Americans who lost their jobs and they'd each be over $22,000 better off.