Monday, July 19, 2021

Covid-19 Vaccines create 9 new billionaires

COVID vaccines create 9 new billionaires with combined wealth greater than cost of vaccinating world's poorest countries

Figures for vaccinating all poorest countries is based on countries defined as ‘Low Income’, for which the population is 775,710,612 (according to UN Population 2020). The average vaccine cost, $19, is based on the  average mid-range cost per course of vaccination of the 5 leading vaccine producers. However, the prices should be far lower and the $19 is for illustration purposes and is in no way an endorsement of these unacceptably high prices. The wealth of the new billionaires could vaccine all Low-Income countries 1.3 times. The population of India (according to UN Population 2020) is 1.38 billion and the increase in wealth of the 8 existing billionaires could vaccine everyone in India 1.2 times. All figures based on a two-dose regimen. Vaccine doses in low income countries data from Our World in Data.

At least nine people have become new billionaires since the beginning of the COVID pandemic, thanks to the excessive profits pharmaceutical corporations with monopolies on COVID vaccines are making, The People’s Vaccine Alliance revealed today ahead of a G20 leaders Global Health Summit.

The 9 new vaccine billionaires, in order of their net worth are: 

  1. St├ęphane Bancel, Moderna’s CEO (worth $4.3 billion)
  2. Ugur Sahin, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech (worth $4 billion)
  3. Timothy Springer, an immunologist and founding investor of Moderna (worth $2.2bn)
  4. Noubar Afeyan, Moderna’s Chairman (worth $1.9 billion)
  5. Juan Lopez-Belmonte, Chairman of ROVI, a company with a deal to manufacture and package the Moderna vaccine (worth $1.8 billion)
  6. Robert Langer, a scientist and founding investor in Moderna (worth $1.6 billion)
  7. Zhu Tao, co-founder and chief scientific officer at CanSino Biologics (worth $1.3 billion)
  8. Qiu Dongxu, co-founder and senior vice president at CanSino Biologics (worth $1.2)
  9. Mao Huihua, also co-founder and senior vice president at CanSino Biologics (worth $1 billion) 

Topping the list of new billionaires who have cashed in on the success of COVID vaccines are the CEOs of Moderna and BioNTech, each with a wealth over $4 billion or more. The list also includes two of Moderna’s founding investors and the company’s chair as well as the CEO of a company with a deal to manufacture and package the Moderna vaccine. This is despite the fact the vast majority of funding for the Moderna vaccine was paid for by taxpayers. The final three new vaccine billionaires are all co-founders of the Chinese vaccine company CanSino Biologics.

The rights to manufacture vaccines are currently held by a small group of pharmaceutical companies making extraordinary profits by controlling the global supply. While over 1.74 billion vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, the difference in vaccination programmes between countries is stark, with dozens –- including Madagascar, Nicaragua, Cuba, Chad, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Eritrea, and Tanzania -- yet to report a single jab being delivered.

I have a new morning alarm these days: the alert on my phone to book a COVID vaccine. It’s the same routine every day. Within seconds of trying to book an appointment, I am told there are “0 slots”. Securing a vaccine in India is an impossible game of fastest finger first.

But this game is only for people like me in urban India with access to technology. Even with these benefits, there is no guarantee that I will get a jab because of the extreme shortages of vaccines.

The rights to manufacture vaccines are currently held by a small group of pharmaceutical companies making extraordinary profits by controlling the global supply. While over 1.74 billion vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, the difference in vaccination programmes between countries is stark, with dozens –- including Madagascar, Nicaragua, Cuba, Chad, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Eritrea, and Tanzania -- yet to report a single jab being delivered.

India’s second wave is still ravaging the country, pushing hospitals and people to a breaking point. It will take a generation to recover from what we’ve seen in our communities, our hospitals and our families. Shortage of oxygen, hospital beds, overburdened crematoriums and crumbling public health infrastructure have left my country gasping for breath.

For the past few months, I’ve been on late-night calls trying to help the sick get hold of oxygen, a hospital bed or COVID medication. There are thousands of volunteers, mostly young, working around the clock to help their communities and families. For them, and for myself, the constant sense of devastation when the people we are trying to help don’t make it is taking its toll.

This nightmare can quickly spread. The so-called Indian variant is between 30% to 100% more transmissible than the UK variant and is now present in 44 countries worldwide. With new variants emerging, we cannot end the pandemic without vaccinating the whole world.

In the United States, 50 per cent of the population has received at least one vaccine dose. India has administered the first dose to only 11 per cent of its population. Meanwhile, Africa has the slowest vaccination rate of any continents, with some African countries yet to start mass vaccination campaigns. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 87 per cent of vaccine supply has gone to higher-income countries.


Tuesday, January 19, 2021

The UP-DND Accord

In his Jan. 15 letter, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told UP President Danilo Concepcion that his office has decided to abrogate the 1989 UP-DND agreement, which he said had been a “hindrance in providing effective security, safety, and welfare of the students, faculty, and employees of UP.”

Sec. Lorenzana added that the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, New People’s Army (NPA), both tagged as terrorist organizations by the Anti-Terrorism Council, have been recruiting students inside the campus.

Sec. Lorenzana said also that the agreement was a "hindrance in providing effective security, safety, and welfare of the students, faculty, and employees of UP."

According to the defense chief, he ended the deal on his "own volition" and not because President Rodrigo Duterte instructed him to.

The defense department said that they find the previous agreement a "hindrance in providing effective security, safety, and welfare of the students, faculty, and employees of the University of the Philippines (UP)." Lorenzana also claimed that there is an "ongoing clandestine recruitment inside UP campuses nationwide for membership in the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People's Army."

The agreement between UP and DND was inked on June 30, 1989 between constitutionalist and UP President Jose Abueva and then-Defense chief Fidel Ramos.

An earlier agreement in 1982, known as the Soto-Enrile Accord, was signed between student leader Sonia Soto and and then-Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile. The agreement prohibits members of the police or military from entering UP campuses “except in cases of hot pursuit and similar occasions of emergency.”

  • Prior notification shall be given to the UP administration by the military or police before they could conduct any operations inside the UP campuses.
  • Except in "cases of hot pursuit and similar occasions of emergency," no military or police shall enter the premises of the UP campuses.
  • When the UP administration asks for security assistance from the troops, only uniformed personnel of the military and police can enter the campus premises.
  • Members of the military and police "shall not interfere with peaceful protest actions" by the UP community in their campus.
  • The service of search warrants to any UP student, faculty, employee, or invited participant in any UP activity shall as far as predictable be done after prior notification to the UP President, or Chancellor of the campus, or the Dean of the regional unit.
  • The arrest or detention of any student, faculty, or employee anywhere in the Philippines, shall be reported immediately to the UP administration. No members of the UP community shall be subjected to custodial investigation without prior notice of the university administration.
  • A joint monitoring group composed of the UP Faculty Regent, UP Student Regent, UP administration officials, and officials from the military and police shall meet twice a year to determine compliance [with] the agreement.
  • Nothing in the agreement "shall be construed as a prohibition against the enforcement of the laws of the land."

The agreement also stipulated that the university strengthen its "own security, police, and fire-fighting capabilities."

The UP campuses have been a refuge for student activism since the 1980s – a result of a long history of student disappearances, killings, and police and military violence within the vicinity of the campuses.

Meanwhile, Reyes said that the termination of the deal has implications on youth activism in the country.

"Everything that the accord prohibits, the DND now wants allowed. 'Yung dating bawal, puwede na. 'Yung dating safeguards, wala na (Those that were prohibited are now allowed. The past safeguards are now gone.) That is the implication of the accord's termination," he said in a Facebook post

What can you say?



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