Some made their fortunes developing new vaccines and promising antibody treatments, while others sell much-needed diagnostic tests and personal protective equipment.
Below is the summary of Forbes analysis on how the Corona Crisis has contributed to a massive increase in billionaire wealth.
The report points to the enrichment of CEO’s connected to Big Pharma and the covid vaccine, as well as Chinese business interests in the areas of covid health products.
While the focus of the Forbes report is on billionaire wealth, it should also be understood that global enrichment has been marked by an accompanied by process of impoverishment of large sectors of the World population in the course of the last 14 months. According to the FAO, famines have erupted in at least 25 developing countries according to UN sources.
This concentration of global wealth has been accompanied by a wave of bankruptcies affecting both Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SME) as well as large Corporations. The evidence suggests that small and medium sized enterprises are literally being wiped out. According to a survey by the International Trade Centre, quoted by the OECD, pertaining to SMEs in 132 countries:
“Based on several surveys in a variety of countries, McKinsey (2020) indicates that between 25% and 36% of small businesses could close down permanently from the disruption in the first four months of the pandemic.
Shortly after the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a global pandemic on March 11, 2020, markets collapsed and economies around the world plunged into recession. At the same time, hundreds of billionaires fell from the ranks of Forbes’ World’s Billionaires list, capturing a snapshot of the pandemic’s impact on the fortunes of the world’s wealthiest people.
One year later, things couldn’t be more different: a record 493 new billionaires joined the list this year, propelled by a red-hot stock market and unprecedented economic stimulus. Among those newcomers are at least 40 new entrants who draw their fortunes from companies involved in fighting Covid-19. Some, such as Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel and BioNTech cofounder Uğur Şahin, have become household names thanks to the vaccines they helped develop. Others got rich making everything from personal protective equipment and diagnostic tests to antibody treatments and software that helps authorities schedule vaccination campaigns, which will be essential in reopening economies and returning to normal life.
The richest of these new billionaires is Li Jianquan, the president of Chinese medical products manufacturer Winner Medical, which ramped up production of masks and medical overalls to supply frontline workers across the globe. Winner Medical’s IPO on the Shenzhen stock exchange in September 2020 instantly made Jianquan, 64, a billionaire several times over thanks to his 68% stake in the company, worth $6.8 billion.
Some vaccine companies have been so successful that their rise over the last year has minted several new billionaires from the same company, including four apiece from Moderna and Tianjin-based CanSino Biologics, which saw its one-shot vaccine approved by Chinese regulators in February. And it’s not just the vaccine discoverers: companies that mass produce the vaccines and contract research firms that help firms run clinical trials have both reaped the rewards, creating new fortunes for people like Juan López-Belmonte López of Spanish pharma outfit Rovi and Karin Sartorius-Herbst and Ulrike Baro of German biopharma firm Sartorius AG.