Paris, France: Profits from Covid-19 injections have helped at least nine people become billionaires, a campaign group said on Thursday, calling for an end to pharmaceutical companies’ “monopoly control” over vaccine technology.
“Between them, the nine new billionaires have a combined net wealth of $ 19.3 billion (€ 15.8 billion), enough to fully immunize all people in low-income countries 1.3 times,” The People’s Vaccine Alliance said in a statement.
The alliance, a network of organizations and activists campaigning for an end to property rights and patents for inoculations, said its numbers were based on data from the Forbes Rich List.
“These billionaires are the human face of the huge profits many pharmaceutical companies make from their monopoly on these vaccines,” said Anna Marriott of the charity Oxfam, which is part of the alliance.
In addition to the new mega-rich, eight existing billionaires saw their combined wealth increase by $ 32.2 billion thanks to the vaccine rollout, the alliance said.
Topping the list of new vaccine billionaires were Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel and his BioNTech counterpart Ugur Sahin.
Three other neo-billionaires are co-founders of the Chinese vaccine company CanSino Biologics.
The research precedes the G20 world health summit on Friday, which has been a lightning rod for growing calls to temporarily remove intellectual property protections on Covid-19 vaccines.
Proponents say it would increase production in developing countries and address the dramatic inequality in access.
The United States, along with influential figures like Pope Francis, supports the idea of a global waiver on patent protection.
At a Paris summit seeking to boost funding in Africa in the midst of a pandemic on Tuesday, French President Emmanuel Macron called for the removal of “all these constraints in terms of intellectual property that block the production of certain types of vaccines” .
The European Commission said on Wednesday it would be a “constructive” voice in the WTO negotiations on the issue.
“The highly effective vaccines we have are due to massive amounts of taxpayer dollars, so it can’t be fair that individuals are cashing in as hundreds of millions face second and third waves without any protection.” Said Heidi Chow, Policy and Campaigns Manager. Manager at Global Justice Now, who helped analyze billionaire data.
“As thousands of people die every day in India, it is absolutely disgusting… to put the interests of the billionaire owners of Big Pharma before the desperate needs of millions,” she added.
Manufacturers have emphasized that patent protection is not the limiting factor in ramping up vaccine production.
They say a wide range of issues – from setting up manufacturing sites, to sourcing raw materials, to the availability of trained personnel – are delaying the manufacturing process.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and is posted from a syndicated feed.)