After the Omicron variant managed to hit the headlines, the CEOs and major shareholders of the Pfizer and Moderna saw a profit of a combined $10.31 billion, as per data compiled by the UK-based Global Justice Now.
Moderna shares rose 13.61% — $273.39 to $310.61 — between Nov. 24 and Dec. 1, whilst throughout the same time period Pfizer shared flew up 7.41% — $50.91 to $54.68, reports Common Dreams.
Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, witnessed his stock rise from $6.1 billion to $6.9 billion for a net revenue of $824 million. Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, recorded a gain of $339,291.
The Daily Mail reported that the four major shareholders of Moderna and Pfizer, along with the CEOs, managed to accumulate around $5.16 billion.
Pfizer’s largest shareholders are Vanguard Group ($1.72 billion), Blackrock ($1.46 billion), State Street Corp. ($1.1 billion) and Capital World Investors ($909 million).
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Moderna’s major shareholders are Baillie Gifford & Co. ($1.59 billion), Vanguard Group ($1 billion), Blackrock ($999.1 million) and Flagship Pioneering ($653.7 million).
Preliminary news on the existence of Omicron sent the vaccine manufacturer stocks soaring, right after Moderna and Pfizer announced that they were rushing to create vaccines against the new strain.
Shares in Moderna rose 20% on Friday following Thanksgiving, after a short trading day, when Pfizer and their vaccine partner BioNTech rose 6% and 14% respectively.
Although it’s unclear whether a new shot is needed, Pfizer could make a vaccine for Omicron by March 2022, Bourla said.
No evidence we need a vaccine for Omicron, but Pfizer makes the case, anyway
Global Justice Now has accused Big Pharma of increasing Omicron by swallowing the profits from vaccine sales to rich countries while refusing to share patents and ensuring that low-income countries have access to COVID vaccines.
Tim Bierley, the organization’s pharma campaigner, said: “Pharmaceutical companies knew that grotesque levels of vaccine inequality would create prime conditions for new variants to emerge.
They let COVID-19 spread unabated in low-and middle-income countries. And now the same pharma execs and shareholders are making a killing from a crisis they helped to create. It’s utterly obscene.”
However, not everyone agrees that failure to vaccinate lead to mutations or that Omicron is dangerous.
Dr. Angelique Coetzee, who was credited with the discovery of the omicron mutation, said she believed that the strain could help lead to herd immunity.
Coetzee, president of the South African Medical Association and a general practitioner for 33 years, said Omicron’s symptoms so far have been mild.
Coetzee wrote for The Daily Mail:
“No one here in South Africa is known to have been hospitalized with the Omicron variant, nor is anyone here believed to have fallen seriously ill with it … The simple truth is:
We don’t know yet anywhere near enough about Omicron to make such judgments or to impose such policies … If, as some evidence suggests, Omicron turns out to be a fast-spreading virus with mostly mild symptoms for the majority of the people who catch it, that would be a useful step on the road to herd immunity.”
Preliminary data supports Coetzee’s hypothesis that while Omicron is highly contagious, it is not very dangerous.
A group of seven Germans were infected with the Omicron variant in early December even after having been fully vaccinated and getting the off-lauded booster shots from Moderna, AstraZeneca and BioNTech.
According to the Botswana government Presidential (COVID-19) Task force press release, the first four Omicron cases in South Africa were also all fully vaccinated individuals.
Even the first infection case of Omicron in the United States was a fully vaccinated Californian individual who was returning home from South Africa.
According to top Russian virologist the Omicron variant could actually help bring the pandemic to an end.
As per a new preliminary study by researchers from Nference, the new Omicron variant may have picked up genetic material from the virus that causes common cold. Researchers suggest that is the reason why it can have lower virulence and greater transmission rate as compared to other coronavirus variants.