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Covid vaccine profits create 9 new big pharma billionaires

After shares in companies that produce the vaccinations skyrocketed, at least nine new billionaires have been minted. Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna (MRNA), and Ugur Sahin, CEO of BioNTech, are at the top of the list of new billionaires. According to the People’s Vaccine Alliance, both CEOs are currently worth about $4 billion. According to activists, the increase in wealth emphasizes the extreme wealth inequalities. 

“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.

Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, left, and BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin.
Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel, left, and BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin.

This information breaks on the same day as the G20 Global Health Summit, when international leaders are expected to propose waiving intellectual property rights on vaccinations. Supporters suggest that the move would boost global supplies and close the immunization gap between rich and poor nations, but others believe that intellectual property is essential for innovation. 

During the health conference on Friday, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla stated that the firm will distribute 2 billion doses of its vaccine to low- and middle-income nations over the next 18 months. By the end of the year, Pfizer plans to have sold around $26 billion worth of the vaccine, with a profit margin of over 30%.

Bourla has defended his choice to profit from the vaccine, claiming that his business took on all of the risk and committed up to $2 billion in research and development.

According to activists, the nine new billionaires are worth a total of $19.3 billion, which is enough to properly vaccinate 780 million people in low-income nations. According to the World Health Organization, 87 percent of vaccination doses have gone to nations with high or upper middle incomes. Only 0.2 percent of global aid has gone to low-income nations. 

BioNTech, a German business, has said that it is committed to providing its vaccine at a reasonable cost to low-income nations. Complex manufacturing procedures and the time it takes to create new plants are among the primary roadblocks, according to a company report. According to Goldman Sachs, Pfizer and Moderna might earn $32 billion on Covid-19 vaccine sales alone in 2021. 

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