NAIROBI (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Profits from the COVID-19 vaccine have created at least nine billionaires whose combined wealth would be enough to inoculate all of the world’s poor, a coalition of charities and activists said on Thursday, calling for a more equitable distribution of blows. .
The new billionaires – who include senior executives from U.S.-based Moderna Inc and Chinese-based CanSino Biologics – have a net worth of $ 19.3 billion between them, according to the People’s Vaccine Alliance.
This would be more than enough to fully immunize all people in low-income countries, the alliance said, urging pharmaceutical companies to end their “monopoly” on patents and technology so other companies can. manufacture the vaccines.
The figures are based on data from Forbes Rich List, said the group, which is a coalition of charities and campaign organizations including Oxfam, UNAIDS and Global Justice Now. He said the calculations were based on current stock prices.
“These billionaires are the human face of the huge profits many pharmaceutical companies make from their monopoly on these vaccines,” said Anna Marriott, head of health policy at Oxfam.
“We must end these monopolies urgently so that we can increase vaccine production, lower prices and immunize the world,” she added.
Separately, the alliance said eight billionaires with large investments in companies producing COVID-19 vaccines saw their combined wealth increase by $ 32.2 billion – enough to fully immunize everyone in India.
A global vaccine shortage and lack of financial resources have meant developing countries received just 0.2% of the world’s vaccines despite making up 10% of its population, the alliance said.
Campaigners want some rich countries to stop blocking World Trade Organization (WTO) moves to boost supply by waiving vaccine patents and sharing technology.
But manufacturers say the production process is complex, and sharing patents would not increase global vaccine production and supply in the short to medium term.
“You need experienced staff. It takes raw materials that must be purchased and qualified to be used. There have to be established processes to prepare the vaccine that must be followed meticulously, ”BioNTech said in a statement.
“If any of these requirements are not met, the quality, safety and efficacy of the vaccine cannot be guaranteed by either the manufacturer or the innovator. This could endanger the health of the vaccines. “
BioNTech said the inclusion of its CEO and co-founder, Ugur Sahin, in the list of new billionaires was incorrect because Sahin had not sold any of its shares.
Moderna and CanSino Biologics did not immediately respond to requests for comment from the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Earlier this month, the United States backed South Africa and India’s proposals at the WTO to temporarily lift patents on COVID-19 vaccines, but other countries such as the Britain and Germany are resistant, the alliance said.
The research precedes the G20 world health summit on Friday and campaigners are calling on all leaders to agree to waive vaccine patents.
“With thousands of people dying every day, it is clear that profit should not come before people’s health,” said Tamaryn Nelson, health adviser at Amnesty International.
Reporting by Nita Bhalla @nitabhalla; Edited by Helen Popper. Please mention the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit news.trust.org