At least nine people have become Big Pharma billionaires, mainly thanks to the huge profits pharmaceutical companies have made from developing and selling vaccines to protect people against covid-19.
The Peoples Vaccine Alliance is a movement of health and humanitarian organizations, world leaders, health experts, religious leaders and economists who want vaccines to be available free to everyone around the world.
In May, the alliance identified nine billionaires with a combined net wealth of $ 19.3 billion – enough, it says, to immunize 1.3 times all people in low-income countries. These numbers were based on data from the Forbes Rich List.
Key members of the G20 World Health Summit, which met in May, sought to end the monopoly of large pharmaceutical companies on vaccine production by blocking measures to increase supply.
“These billionaires are the new human face of the huge profits that most pharmaceutical companies derive from the monopoly on these vaccines,” said Anna Marriot of Oxfam, a charity that is part of the People Vaccine Alliance. “What a demonstration of our common failure to control this barbaric disease that we are rapidly creating new billionaires but totally failing to vaccinate the billions who desperately need them.”
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), low-income countries have received only 0.2% of the global vaccine supply despite being home to 10% of the world’s population.
High- and upper-middle-income countries have received more than 87% of global vaccine doses, the WHO said.
Member organizations of the People’s Vaccine Alliance include Global Justice Now and UNAIDS. They called for an end to pharmaceutical companies’ “monopoly control” over vaccine technology.
“The highly effective vaccines we have today are the result of huge sums of taxpayer dollars. Therefore, it is not fair that a few individuals get richer as millions face the second and third waves without any protection, ”said Heidi Chow, senior policy and campaign manager at Global Justice Now.
Of the 200.6 million reported cases of covid worldwide, 180,816,409 people have recovered from the virus and 4,265,820 million have died, according to Worldometers. Almost 20 percent of reported cases and 15 percent of reported deaths are in the United States. The United States has 4.25 percent of the total world population.
Here are nine people who have made billions selling vaccines.
Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna and BioNTech (net worth: $ 13.4 billion)
Stéphane Bancel, CEO of BioNTech, is estimated at more than $ 4.3 billion, according to an analysis by The People’s Vaccine Alliance. He became CEO of Moderna in 2011 and owns around 8% of the publicly traded company. BioNTech produced a vaccine with Pfizer and for a net profit of $ 1.3 billion in the first three months of 2021, largely thanks to its sales of the covid-19 vaccine. Moderna’s share price has gained more than 700% since February 2020, while BioNTech has jumped 600%.
Ugur Şahin, CEO of BioNTech (net worth of $ 16.4 billion)
Ugur Şahin is also co-founder and CEO of BioNTech and its value is estimated at $ 16.4 billion. Şahin, who was born in Turkey and raised in Germany, owns around 17% of BioNTech, which went public on Nasdaq in October 2019.
Moderna founding investor Timothy Springer (net worth $ 5.9 billion)
Timothy Springer is an immunologist and professor of biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology at Harvard Medical School. He was a founding investor in publicly traded biotechnology company Moderna in 2010, investing approximately $ 5 million. He now owns 3.5 percent of the company’s shares.
Noubar Afeyan, president of Moderna (net worth of $ 5 billion)
Noubar Afeyan is the chairman of biotech company Moderna whose sales of covid vaccines totaled $ 1.7 billion in the first three months of 2021. It was the highest-grossing quarter in the history of the publicly traded pharmaceutical company. Goldman Sachs predicts Moderna will generate $ 13.2 billion in covid 19 vaccine revenue in 2021. Beyond Afeyan’s stake in Moderna, it also owns shares in more than a dozen biotech companies. listed on the United States stock exchange.
Juan Lopez-Belmonte, president of Laboratorios Farmaceuticos Rovi (net worth $ 1.8 billion)
Juan Lopez-Belmonte was president of the Madrid-based biotechnology company Laboratorios Farmaceuticos Rovi, a company that manufactures and packages the Moderna vaccine. Together with his sons, he owned more than 60% of the listed company in Madrid until his death in July 2021. His son Juan Lopez-Belmonte Encina is CEO of the company and two other sons are vice-presidents.
Robert Langer, scientist and founding investor of Moderna (net worth of $ 5 billion)
Robert Langer is a scientist and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was one of the founding investors of Moderna and currently owns a 3% stake in the company.
Zhu Tao, Co-Founder and Scientific Director of CanSino Biologics (net worth $ 2 billion)
Zhu Tao is the co-founder and scientific director of the Chinese company CanSino Biologics, a supplier of vaccines. Zhu was one of Moderna’s early investors and became a billionaire on paper as stocks skyrocketed, in part pending profits from covid vaccines.
Qiu Dongxu, Co-Founder and Senior Vice President of CanSino Biologics (net worth $ 1.8 billion)
Like Zhu, Qui also made his billions as Moderna’s stock price skyrocketed. The company received conditional approval in February for its unique covid-19 vaccine from Chinese regulators.
Mao Huihua, co-founder and senior vice president of CanSino Biologics (net worth $ 1.7 billion)
Mao Huihua is also co-founder and senior vice president of CanSino Biologics, a vaccine supplier. Mao obtained master’s and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering from the Chinese Academy of Sciences in 1984 and 1988.