As most people are still living under the fear of the Corona Virus and millions trying to come to terms with the death of the loved one, many not having the money to even cremate the dead bodies, the virus has made at least nine billionaires. The rise of these nine is the result of the profits garnered from the COVID-19 jabs.
According to The People's Vaccine Alliance, these nine new billionaires have amassed a combined wealth of $19.3 billion. The money is enough to fully vaccinate all the people, 1.3 times the low-income countries.
The alliance is a network of activists and organizations campaigning for the end of patents and property rights for inoculation, mainly the monopoly control held by the pharmaceutical corporations on vaccine technology. These figures, as per the alliance, are based on the data from the Forbes Rich List.
The vaccine rollout has increased the wealth of the existing eight billionaires by $32.2 billion. Topping the list is Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel and Ugur Sahin of BioNTech.
With the crisis in the production and procuring of the vaccination across the developing countries, including India, there has been a growing call to temporarily remove intellectual property protection on COVID-19 vaccines. The U.S Pope Francis, and even French President Emmanuel Macron have been calling for the removal of the constraints in terms of intellectual property that has been blocking the production of vaccines.
The Senior Policy and Campaigns Manager at Global Justice Now, Heidi Chow, argued that these vaccines result from taxpayer money, so it's unfair that less than a dozen are cashing on it, while thousands of people in India and other countries continue to die. It is also leaving many unprotected for the third wave of the virus.
The pharmaceutical companies have been trying hard to keep the patents and intellectual property rights for the vaccines in place. They have countered Chow and other leaders' arguments, saying that the patent is not the limiting factor in increasing the production of the vaccines. There are a host of other reasons like finding qualified persons, getting the raw materials, setting up the manufacturing sites that hinder production.
With India still reeling from the crisis of vaccinations despite Serum Institute of India being the world's largest manufacturer, the company has decided to halt the export of COVID-19 vaccines till the end of the year. The Chief Executive has also said they will scale up the manufacturing and prioritise India.
However, the halt to export of the vaccine comes as a blow to many countries depending on it.