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The world’s 10 richest men have made so much money during the pandemic that a one-time 99% tax on their gains could pay for all COVID-19 vaccine production and more: Oxfam

The wealth of the 10 richest men has more than doubled during the COVID-19 pandemic.

MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images; Nicholas Kamm/Getty Images; Britta Pedersen-Pool/Getty Images

  • The wealth of the world’s top ten richest men has more than doubled to $1.5 trillion since the pandemic started.
  • In contrast, the incomes of 99% of humanity have fallen, the charity Oxfam said in a new report.
  • “Billionaires have had a terrific pandemic,” said Oxfam executive director Gabriela Bucher.

The wealth of the 10 richest men in the world has grown so much during the coronavirus pandemic that even a one-time 99% tax on their gains would be able to pay for the production of all the COVID-19 vaccines the world needs and more, according to the charity Oxfam.

“Billionaires have had a terrific pandemic. Central banks pumped trillions of dollars into financial markets to save the economy, yet much of that has ended up lining the pockets of billionaires riding a stock market boom,” Oxfam International’s executive director, Gabriela Bucher, said in a press release announcing a new report from the organization, “Inequality Kills.”

Highlighting the vast wealth disparity that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic, Oxfam noted that the wealth of the world’s 10 richest men more than doubled to $1.5 trillion from $700 billion from March 2020 to November 2021. That’s a rate of $15,000 a second or $1.3 billion a day, the charity said.

Oxfam used the Forbes Billionaires List, topped by Tesla CEO Elon Musk, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, and LVMH CEO Bernard Arnault, to calculate the figures.

“Vaccines were meant to end this pandemic, yet rich governments allowed pharma billionaires and monopolies to cut off the supply to billions of people. The result is that every kind of inequality imaginable risks rising,” Bucher said.

According to Oxfam’s calculations, a one-time 99% windfall tax on the gains in fortunes of the 10 richest men would able be to pay for the manufacture of the world’s COVID-19 vaccines. There’d also be enough to fund other public-works projects, including universal healthcare and social protection.

“All this, while still leaving these men $8 billion better off than they were before the pandemic,” Oxfam noted in its report.

The charity urges governments to “claw back” gains made by billionaires.

“It has never been so important to start righting the violent wrongs of this obscene inequality by clawing back elites’ power and extreme wealth including through taxation — getting that money back into the real economy and to save lives,” Bucher said.

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