Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZenenca have paid out $26 billion in dividends and stock buyouts to shareholders over the last year, analysis found – enough to cover the cost of vaccinating the population of Africa, writes Sarah Newey.
According to the People’s Vaccine Alliance, the profits made by these pharmaceutical companies are inappropriate while shortages remain acute internationally. The campaign groups want drugs companies to waive patents and help set up factories worldwide to produce affordable versions of their jabs. 
The alliance estimates that Pfizer has paid out $8.44bn in dividends, Johnson & Johnson $10.5bn in dividends and $3.2bn in share buybacks, and AstraZeneca $3.6bn in dividends.
This is a public health emergency, not a private profit opportunity, said Anna Marriott, a health policy adviser at Oxfam, which is part of the alliance. We should not be letting corporations decide who lives and who dies while boosting their profits. It is appalling that big pharma is making huge payouts to wealthy shareholders in the face of this global health emergency.  
The alliance adds that the demand for vaccines has created a new wave of billionaires – even as the global economy is stagnating. Uur ahin, the founder of BioNTech, which partnered with Pfizer to produce the vaccine he and his wife invented, now has shares worth $5.9bn. Stéphane Bancel, the CEO of Moderna, which produced a vaccine with similar mRNA technology, is worth $5.2bn.

You may also like