Moderna’s share price has gained more than 700% since February 2020, while BioNTech has surged 600%. CanSino Biologics’ stock is up about 440% over the same period. The company’s single-dose Covid-19 vaccine was approved for use in China in February.
Activists said the wealth generation highlighted the stark inequality that has resulted from the pandemic. The nine new billionaires are worth a combined $19.3 billion, enough to fully vaccinate some 780 million people in low-income countries, campaigners said.
“These billionaires are the human face of the huge profits many pharmaceutical corporations are making from the monopoly they hold on these vaccines,” Anne Marriott, Oxfam’s health policy manager, said in a statement. “These vaccines were funded by public money and should be first and foremost a global public good, not a private profit opportunity,” she added.
The report coincides with the G20 Global Health Summit taking place on Friday at which world leaders are expected to discuss waiving intellectual property rights on vaccines.
Albert Bourla, the CEO of Pfizer, said during the health summit on Friday that the company will provide 2 billion doses of its vaccine to low- and middle-income countries over the next 18 months. Pfizer expects its sales of the vaccine to total about $26 billion by the end of this year, with a profit margin approaching 30%.
BioNTech, which received €325 million ($397 million) from the German government for the development of the vaccine, said it is committed to supplying low-income countries with its vaccine at cost. “We all know that no one will be safe until everyone is safe,” the company added.
In a statement shared with CNN Business, it said that complex manufacturing processes and the length of time it takes to build new factories are among the major obstacles to increasing the global supply of vaccines. “Patents are not the limiting factor,” it said.
BioNTech made a net profit of €1.1 billion ($1.3 billion) in the first three months of the year, largely thanks to its share of sales from the Covid-19 vaccine, compared with a loss of €53.4 million ($75.9 million) for the same period last year.
CanSino Biologics and Moderna did not respond to a request for comment. In a statement last month, Bancel said that Moderna is willing to license its intellectual property to other companies “for the post-pandemic period.”
-— Chris Isidore and Naomi Thomas contributed reporting.