Vaccines against covid-19 created at least nine new billionaires after the stock boom in the companies producing the photos.
Topping the list of new billionaires are Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel and Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech, which produced a vaccine with Pfizer. The two CEOs are now worth around $ 4 billion, according to one Analysis by the People’s Vaccine Alliance, a campaign group that includes Oxfam, UNAIDS, Global Justice Now and Amnesty International.
Top executives at CanSino Biologics in China and early Moderna investors also became billionaires on paper as stocks skyrocketed, partly in the expectation of benefits from Covid vaccineswhich also bodes well for the future prospects of companies. The analysis was compiled from data from the Rich list of Forbes.
Moderna’s stock price has gained more than 700% since February 2020, while BioNTech has jumped 600%. CanSino Biologics’ inventory increased by approximately 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 creation highlighted the severe inequality that has resulted from the pandemic. The nine new billionaires are worth a total of $ 19.3 billion, enough to fully immunize some 780 million people in low-income countries, the activists said.
“These billionaires are the human face of the huge profits many pharmaceutical companies make from the monopoly they hold on these vaccines,” Anne Marriott, Oxfam’s health policy officer, said in a statement. “These vaccines have been publicly funded and should be primarily a global public good, not an opportunity for private profit,” she added.
The report coincides with the G20 World Health Summit to be held on Friday, at which world leaders are expected to discuss relinquishing intellectual property rights to vaccines.
US President Joe Biden backed the move, which his supporters say will help expand global supply and reduce the immunization gap between rich and poor countries. Opponents, such as Germany, argued that intellectual property protection is vital for innovation, and argued that removing patents will not significantly increase supply due to limited production capacity and insufficient vaccine components.
According to the World Health Organization, 87% of vaccine doses went to high-income and upper-middle-income countries, while low-income countries only received 0.2%. In one paper released on Friday, IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath said immunizing 60% of the world’s population by mid-2022 would cost just $ 50 billion.
Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, told Friday’s health summit that the company will deliver 2 billion doses of its vaccine to low- and middle-income countries over the next 18 months. Pfizer expects its vaccine sales to total around $ 26 billion by the end of this year, with a profit margin approaching 30%.
Bourla has defended the decision to take advantage of the vaccine, saying his company was taking all the risk of developing it and had invested up to $ 2 billion in research and development.
Billions of vaccines
BioNTech, which has received 325 million euros ($ 397 million) from the German government for vaccine development, said it is committed to providing its vaccine to low-income countries at cost. “We all know that no one will be safe until everyone is safe,” the company added.
In a statement shared with CNN Business, he said complex manufacturing processes and the time required to build new factories were among the main obstacles to increasing the global supply of vaccines. “Patents are not the limiting factor,” he said.
BioNTech made a net profit of 1.1 billion euros ($ 1.3 billion) in the first three months of the year, largely thanks to its share of sales of the Covid-19 vaccine, compared to a loss of 53.4 million euros ($ 75.9 million) for the same period last year.
Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine sales reached $ 1.7 billion in the first three months of this year and it enjoyed its first profitable quarter, the company reported earlier this month. Goldman Sachs expects Moderna to make $ 13.2 billion in revenue from the Covid-19 vaccine in 2021. The company has received billions of dollars in funding from the U.S. government for the development of its vaccine.
CanSino Biologics and Moderna did not respond to a request for comment. In a statement last month, Bancel said Moderna was willing to cede its intellectual property to other companies “for the post-pandemic period.”
AstraZeneca, which produced a vaccine with researchers at the University of Oxford, has agreed to provide doses at cost until at least July 2021, and in perpetuity to low- and middle-income countries. Johnson & Johnson also said it will provide its vaccine to a nonprofit, as long as the world continues to suffer from the pandemic.
-— Chris Isidore and Naomi Thomas contributed reporting.