Vaccines against Covid-19 have enabled at least nine people to become billionaires, including French CEO of Moderna Stéphane Bancel. Their cumulative fortune would make it possible to vaccinate the poorest countries, the NGO Oxfam said on Thursday, May 20.
These new fortunes have emerged “Thanks to the huge profits of the pharmaceutical groups which have a monopoly on the production of vaccines against the Covid”, said Oxfam in a statement released before a G20 world health summit on Friday in Rome.
These figures are based on the ranking of the American magazine “Forbes” and are published by the People’s Vaccine Alliance, of which Oxfam is a member, which brings together organizations and personalities demanding free vaccines against Covid all over the world.
The cumulative fortune of the nine billionaires cited, $ 19.3 billion, “Would enable all low-income countries to be vaccinated 1.3 times”, who “Received only 0.2% of vaccines produced in the world, in particular due to the large deficit of available doses”, according to Oxfam.
Vaccines “financed by public funds”
The first two fortunes, which stand out from the crowd, are held by the CEO of Moderna Stéphane Bancel ($ 4.3 billion) and the CEO and German co-founder of BioNTech Ugur Sahin (4 billion).
Stéphane Bancel, by Alain Mérieux: “In the business world, he can be compared to Elon Musk”
Eight other billionaires, with “Large equity portfolios” in pharmaceutical companies, experienced a cumulative increase in their assets of $ 32.2 billion, “Enough to vaccinate the entire Indian population”, adds the press release.
“These vaccines have been publicly funded and should be primarily a global public good”, said Sandra Lhote-Fernandes, of Oxfam France, calling in the statement to “Put an urgent end to these monopolies”.
The European Commission assured on Wednesday that the European Union (EU) would be “Constructive” to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to assess a lifting of anti-Covid vaccine patents, wanted by Washington, but that it would first propose measures to rapidly increase production.
France’s “ambiguous position” on the lifting of patents
The day before, African countries, European countries and other continents as well as international organizations present at the summit on African economies, organized in Paris, had requested the lifting of patents on anti-Covid vaccines, to allow their production in Africa, recalls AFP.
Should the vaccine be a global public good?
But “Key members of the G20, notably the UK and Germany, continue to block initiatives to remove intellectual property barriers” on vaccines, denounces Oxfam, which also points to a “Ambiguous position” of France on the subject.
Thursday, May 6, Emmanuel Macron said to himself “Very much in favor of the lifting of intellectual property” on anti-Covid vaccines, after clearly showing its reluctance on this subject the previous days. However, he clarified that according to him, the priority was for the moment “The donation of doses” and “To produce in partnership with the poorest countries”.