The discovery and rollout of live-saving COVID-19 vaccines worldwide have spawned nine new billionaires, according to NGOs.
The new billionaires include five people associated with Moderna and three from CanSino Biologics, a Chinese vaccine company.
"Between them, the nine new billionaires have a combined net wealth of $19.3 billion (€15.8 billion), enough to fully vaccinate all people in low-income countries 1.3 times," the People's Vaccine, which comprises nine NGOs including Amnesty International, Oxfam and UNAIDS, said in a statement.
"Meanwhile, these countries have received only 0.2 per cent of the global supply of vaccines, because of the massive shortfall in available doses, despite being home to 10 per cent of the world's population," it added.
NGOs say the nine new billionaires are:
- Stephane Bancel: Moderna CEO ($4.3 billion, €3.5 billion)
- Ugur Sahin: CEO and co-founder of BioNTech ($4 billion, €3.3 billion)
- Timothy Springer: immunologist and founding investor in Moderna ($2.2 billion, €1.8 billion)
- Noubar Ayefan: Moderna chairman ($1.9 billion, €1.6 billion)
- Juan Lopez-Belmonte: Chairman of ROVIm a company that manufactures and packages the Moderna jab ($1.8 billion, €1.5 billion)
- Robert Langer: scientist and founding investor in Moderna ($1.6 billion, €1.3 billion)
- Zhu Tao: co-founder and chief scientific officer at CanSino Biologics ($1.3 billion, €1.1 billion)
- Qiu Dongxu: co-founder and senior vice president at CanSino Biologics ($1.2 billion, €1 billion)
- Mao Huinhoa: co-founder and senior vice president at CanSino Biologics ($1 billion, €820 million)
Euronews has contacted Moderna and CanSino Biologics for comment but had not heard back by the time of publication.
In addition to these new billionaires, eight existing billionaires have also seen their wealth increase by a combined $32.2 billion (€26.4 billion) because of their investments in vaccine pharma corporations, according to the People's Vaccine.
Anna Marriott, Oxfam's Health Policy Manager, said that "these billionaires are the human face of the huge profits may pharmaceutical corporations are making from the monopoly they hold of these vaccines".
"These vaccines were funded by public money and should be first and foremost a global public good, not a private profit opportunity. We need to urgently end these monopolies so that we can scale up vaccine production, drive down prices and vaccinate the world," she added.
The United Nations, including its World Health Organization, has called for vaccine makers to release the patents of their jabs. This has been backed by multiple developing countries as well as the US and Spain.