Do you know who have been made new billionaires in the world due to the Covid-19 vaccines production? There are at least nine new billionaires Covid-19 vaccines have created after the shares of the companies that make them skyrocketed.
Stefan Bancel, CEO of Moderna (MRNA), and Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech (BNTX), which has developed a vaccine in collaboration with Pfizer (PFE), top the list of new billionaires in the world. According to an analysis by the People’s Vaccine Alliance, which includes Oxfam, UNAIDS, Global Justice Now and Amnesty International, the two CEOs are now worth about $4 billion.
Executives at China’s CanSino Biologics and Moderna’s early investors have also become billionaires on paper, as the company’s stock has soared, in part on profit expectations for Covid vaccines, which also bode well for the company’s future prospects. The analysis was compiled using data from the Forbes Rich List.
Since February 2020, Moderna’s share price has risen more than 700% and BioNTech’s share price has risen 600%. CanSino Biologics shares have risen about 440% in the same period. Single dose of Covid-19 vaccine was approved for use in China in February.
What activists say about wealth of new billionaires in the world?
Activists say the wealth of this generation highlights the stark inequalities created by the pandemic. Activists say the combined wealth of the nine new billionaires is $19.3 billion, enough to fully vaccinate some 780 million people in low-income countries.
“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 on Friday, where leaders are expected to discuss the elimination of intellectual property rights for vaccines.
U.S. President Joe Biden has endorsed the initiative, which supporters say will increase global supply and reduce the vaccine gap between rich and poor countries. Opponents, such as Germany, argue that intellectual property protection is essential for innovation and claim 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- and upper-middle-income countries, while low-income countries received only 0.2%. In a paper published Friday, IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath estimates that it would cost only $50 billion to vaccinate 60% of the world’s population by mid-2022.
Pfizer CEO Albert Burla told a health summit Friday that the company will supply 2 billion doses of its vaccine to low- and middle-income countries over the next 18 months. Pfizer expects sales of the vaccine to reach about $26 billion by the end of the year, with a 30% return.
Burla defended the decision to profit from the coronavirus vaccine, saying that his company had taken all the risk in developing the vaccine and had invested up to $2 billion in research and development.
Billions of Vaccines
BioNTech, which received 325 million euros ($397 million) from the German government to develop the vaccine, said it was committed to providing the vaccine at cost price to low-income countries. “We all know that no one will be safe until everyone is safe,” the company added.
According to a report released by CNN Business, complex manufacturing processes and the long lead time needed to build new facilities are among the main obstacles to increasing the global supply of vaccines. “Patents are not the limiting factor,” the statement said.
BioNTech posted a net profit of €1.1 billion ($1.3 billion) in the first three months of the year, largely thanks to its share of Covid-19 vaccine sales, compared with a loss of €53.4 million ($75.9 million) in the same period a year earlier.
Sales of Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine reached $1.7 billion in the first three months of this year, and the company had the first profitable quarter in its history, it announced earlier this month. Goldman Sachs (GS) expects Moderna to earn $13.2 billion from its Covid-19 vaccine in 2021. The company has received billions of dollars in U.S. government funding to develop its vaccine.
Moderna and CanSino Biologics did not reply to a request for any comment. In a statement last month, Bancel said Moderna was willing to license its intellectual property to other companies “for the post-pandemic period.”
AstraZeneca (AZN), which developed the vaccine with researchers at Oxford University, has agreed to provide doses at cost until at least July 2021 and indefinitely to low- and middle-income countries. Johnson & Johnson (JNJ) also said it would make its vaccine available on a non-commercial basis as long as the world suffers a pandemic.