Profits from Covid-19 jabs have helped at least nine people become billionaires, a campaign group claimed, calling for an end to pharmaceutical corporations' monopoly control on vaccine technology.
Between them, the nine new billionaires have a combined net wealth of US$19.3 billion, enough to fully vaccinate all people in low-income countries 1.3 times, The People's Vaccine Alliance said in a statement.
The alliance, a network of organizations and activists campaigning for an end to property rights and patents for inoculations, said its figures were based on the Forbes Rich List data.
These billionaires are the human face of the huge profits many pharmaceutical corporations are making from the monopoly they hold on these vaccines, said Anna Marriott from charity Oxfam, which is part of the alliance.
In addition to the new mega-rich, eight existing billionaires have seen their combined wealth increase by US$32.2 billion thanks to the vaccine roll-out, the alliance said.
Topping the list of new vaccine billionaires were the CEO of Moderna Stephane Bancel, and his BioNTech counterpart Ugur Sahin. Three other neo-billionaires are co-founders of the Chinese vaccine company CanSino Biologics.
While several G20 countries have rejected growing calls for intellectual property protections on Covid-19 vaccines. Proponents say doing so would boost production in developing countries and address the dramatic inequity in access.
President Joe Biden administration in the US as well as influential figures like Pope Francis, back the idea of a global waiver on patent protections.