In the first week that the Omicron variant sparked global fears of a new wave of infections, a small handful of investors and executives with Pfizer and Moderna — currently the world’s preeminent makers of Covid-19 vaccines — saw over $10 billion in new wealth, with the Moderna’s CEO alone adding over $800 million to his personal fortune.
Based on data compiled by Global Justice Now and released Saturday, “just 8 top Pfizer and Moderna shareholders” added a combined $10.31 billion to their fortunes last week after stock prices soared in response to the emergence of Omicron. According to a statement released by the group:
Moderna’s shares skyrocketed after the announcement and settled at $310.61/share on Wednesday 1 December, up 13.61% from $273.39/share since Wednesday 24 November, the day before the announcement. Pfizer’s shares rose by 7.41% from $50.91/share to $54.68/share.
Moderna’s CEO, Stephane Bancel, personally became more than $824m richer in the week after the announcement, with the value of his shares rising from $6,052,522,978 to $6,876,528,630. He sold 10,000 shares at $319 each, the day after the variant announcement, and he took home $3.19million.
At close of business on Tuesday, Bancel’s shares had grown by $1.7 billion since the announcement, before falling after the company lost a legal dispute over patents.
Bancel has refused to share the recipe for Moderna’s vaccine with the World Health Organisation to help scale-up manufacturing of mRNA vaccines through its new hub in South Africa. Scientists from WHO are currently trying to reverse-engineer this vaccine. His company is also fighting to remove the role of large public funding and public scientists involved in the development of the jab.
Public health campaigners are hammering government leaders for being complicit in the drug industry’s bidding. Anger has grown more severe because of the likelihood of new and potentially dangerous variants arising if countries do not swiftly make shots universally accessible.
“Pharmaceutical companies knew that grotesque levels of vaccine inequality would create prime conditions for new variants to emerge,” said Tim Bierley, pharma campaigner at Global Justice Now. “They let Covid-19 spread unabated in low and middle-income countries. The same pharma execs as shareholders are now making a killing from the crisis they helped to create. It’s utterly obscene.”
“At every turn,” he continued, “these companies have obstructed efforts to more equitably distribute vaccines around the world. They have made more from the pandemic than they could afford, selling two of most lucrative drugs in history. It’s time to hand over the recipe for these essential medicines to the WHO so we can finally end this pandemic.”
When is a new variant of covid good news? If you’re a shareholder in pharma, of course!https://t.co/uWbzrAPcwR
— Tim Bierley (@TimBierley) December 3, 2021
Although a decision on the WTO patent waiver was delayed last week, global progressives insist that there will not be an end to the global pandemic unless vaccine apartheid is abolished.
Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel economist and Lori Wallach are both trade experts. arguedLast week’s op-ed stated that the pandemic can’t be stopped until the waiver has been approved.
“As the Omicron variant shows, as long as there are raging outbreaks anywhere, Covid-19 will mutate and the possibility of more infectious or deadly strains increases,” the pair wrote. “That’s why, unless people everywhere are vaccinated, we face the prospect of an endless pandemic.”
When the “underlying problem is a lack of global supply,” they argued — and more vaccines and boosters will be needed to fend off variants — the WTO waiver “is an obvious way of increasing supply and helping put an end to the pandemic for good.”
And as Bierley said, “It’s long past time for the UK and the EU to stand on the side of global health instead of vaccine billionaires — and get behind an intellectual property waiver on Covid-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments.”