by Michiel Willems
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Big Pharma executives and
shareholders saw their wealth skyrocket in the week after the
Omicron variant was discovered, with eight top
Pfizer and Moderna shareholders
making a combined $10.3bn.
Campaigners have accused pharma executives of "making a killing from
a crisis they helped to create", blaming "grotesque" levels of
vaccine inequality for creating the conditions for the Omicron
variant to emerge.
They are calling on governments to support a waiver of intellectual
property rules on
Covid-19 vaccines and treatments to
allow low and middle-income countries to manufacture jabs for
themselves, breaking Big Pharma monopolies and increasing
Moderna's shares skyrocketed after the announcement and settled at
$310.61 per share on Wednesday 1 December, up 13.6 per cent from
$273.39 per share since Wednesday 24 November, the day before the
Pfizer's shares rose by 7.4 per cent from $50.91/share to $54.68 per
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
He sold off 10,000 shares for $319 each on 26 November, the day
after the variant was announced, cashing out $3.19m.
At close of business on Tuesday, Bancel's shares had grown by $1.7bn
since the announcement, before falling after the company lost a
legal dispute over patents, as various media included Reuters
Bancel has refused to share the recipe for Moderna's vaccine with
the World Health Organization (WHO)
to help scale-up manufacturing of mRNA vaccines through its new hub
in South Africa.
WHO scientists are now trying to reverse-engineer the vaccine.
His company is also
waging a legal battle to erase the role of massive public funding
and public scientists in developing the jab, according to Nature
Meanwhile, Pfizer CEO
Albert Bourla made $339,236 in
the week after the announcement of the variant, with his smaller
portfolio rising from $4,581,035 to $4,920,270.
Vanguard and Morgan Stanley
Institutional investors have also made a killing from the variant.
Blackrock's Moderna and Pfizer
shares increased by more than $2.5bn in the week after the
announcement; $1,000,553,995 from Moderna and $1,548,822,709
Vanguard Group made $2.7bn;
$1,011,692,117 from Moderna and $1,733,982,482 from Pfizer.
Gifford & Co increased by $1,571,329,916
Stanley increased by $447,476,028.50
pioneering increased by $654,365,415
State Street went up $1,054,857,992 and Capital World gained
Just 6 per cent of people
in low-income countries have been vaccinated, while pharmaceutical
companies sell booster jabs to rich nations.
The ten Southern African
countries on the UK's travel red list, where it is suspected that
Omicron may have emerged, have a combined vaccination rate of
just 14 per cent, according to Our World in Data.
For more than a year, South Africa has led calls from low and
middle-income countries to temporarily waive intellectual property
rights on Covid-19 vaccines, tests and treatments, to allow wider
manufacturing and more equitable access to medical technologies.
A waiver is supported by the WHO and the governments of most
countries, including the United States, but the UK and EU, driven by
Germany, have blocked the measure from progressing at the World
In May of 2020, the WHO set up its Covid-19 Technology Access
Pool (C-TAP), a program to facilitate the transfer of vaccine
technology and know-how to accredited manufacturers.
But Big Pharmaceutical
companies have boycotted the scheme, which Pfizer CEO Albert
Bourla dismissed as "nonsense"...