- Nine people have become “vaccine billionaires” since the start of the pandemic, a report said.
- They include Moderna and BioNTech’s CEOs, plus execs at Chinese vaccine maker CanSino Biologics.
- Their wealth could pay to vaccinate 776 million people in low-income countries, the report said.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
The successful development of COVID-19 vaccines has created at least nine new billionaires since the start of the pandemic, according to a new report by the People’s Vaccine Alliance.
It said soaring stocks in pharma giants — fueled by investors who expect huge profits from COVID-19 vaccines — had driven the surge in wealth.
According to the report, which used data from Forbes, the nine new vaccine billionaires are:
- Stéphane Bancel, the CEO of American vaccine maker Moderna, who is now worth $4.3 billion.
- Ugur Sahin, the CEO and co-founder of German vaccine maker BioNTech, which worked alongside Pfizer on its COVID-19 vaccine. Sahin is now worth $4 billion.
- Timothy Springer, an immunologist and founding investor of Moderna, who is now worth $2.2 billion.
- Noubar Afeyan, Moderna’s Chairman, who is now worth $1.9 billion.
- Juan Lopez-Belmonte, the Chairman of ROVI, a Spanish biotech company with a deal to manufacture and package the Moderna vaccine, who is now worth $1.8 billion.
- Robert Langer, a scientist and founding investor in Moderna, who is now worth $1.6 billion.
- Zhu Tao, a co-founder and chief scientific officer at Chinese vaccine maker CanSino Biologics, who is now worth $1.3 billion
- Qiu Dongxu, a co-founder and senior vice president at CanSino Biologics, who is now worth $1.2 billion
- Mao Huinhoa, also a co-founder and senior vice president at CanSino Biologics, who is now worth $1 billion
The nine new billionaires have a combined net wealth of $19.3 billion, the Alliance said, which it claimed was more than enough to fully vaccinate 776 million people the UN says live in low-income countries.
These countries have around 10% of the world’s population — but have only received 0.2% of the global supply of vaccines so far, the Alliance said. The group, whose members include health, humanitarian, and human-rights organizations, as well as world leaders, health experts, and economists, is pushing for intellectual property protections to be removed from COVID-19 vaccines, so that they can be made available globally for free.
Anna Marriott, Oxfam’s health policy manager, said in a press release that the creation of new billionaires while billions of people remain unvaccinated “a testament to our collective failure to control this cruel disease.”
“These billionaires are the human face of the huge profits many pharmaceutical corporations are making from the monopoly they hold on these vaccines,” she said. “These vaccines were funded by public money and should be first and foremost a global public good, not a private profit opportunity.”
Earlier this month, the Biden administration said it would support waiving intellectual property rights for COVID-19 vaccines. The move, sought by developing nations, would allow other countries to manufacture vaccines from Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, and Moderna without fear of sanctions at the World Trade Organization, Insider’s Charles Davis reported.