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Meet The COVID Vaccine Billionaires


Many can't help but compare the ongoing pandemic to the 2011 American thriller "Contagion". Some even go as far as saying the movie directed by Steven Soderbergh and written by Scott Z. Burns, even predicted COVID-19. 

Even though there are some similarities between the two, one thing wasn’t properly covered by the movie: Whether the CDC’s Dr. Ally Hextall made any profit from developing the vaccine that ended the pandemic.

In real life, COVID vaccine stocks have been minting millionaires--and even billionaires--overnight. 

Researchers around the world are working on more than 150 different coronavirus vaccines, with 26 already reaching the human trial stage. All companies involved have benefited greatly from the race, with the biggest winner (Novavax, NYSE:NVAX) netting shareholders 2,666% returns year to date.

Overall, coronavirus vaccine stocks grew over 670% year-to-date, compared to the S&P 500, which has gained just about 3% over the same period. 

Last month, Pfizer and BioNTech announced that their coronavirus vaccine was strongly effective in preventing COVID-19 among volunteers who received the shot. 

In another boost, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has just granted emergency use authorization (EUA) of its vaccine, with first dozes to ship as soon as today. 

The approval came about with a 17 to 4 vote and 1 abstention as several FDA committee members expressed concern about reports of allergic reactions in the UK, which authorized Pfizer's vaccine ahead of the U.S.

The founders of BioNTech, a married couple and Turkish-born German scientists Ugur Sahin and  Ozlem Tureci, have added $4 billion to their personal fortune. The pair co-founded BioNTech in 2008, with the aim of pursuing a much broader range of cancer immunotherapy tools.

High-profile BioNTech investors, brothers Thomas and Andreas Strungmann have profited even further over the last 12 months, both adding $8 billion to their net worth to reach a total of more than $12 billion.

The company was already working on a flu vaccine with Pfizer when the two agreed to collaborate on the COVID-19 vaccine without any contracts.

U.S.-based biotech company Moderna, who also said last month that its coronavirus vaccine was nearly 95% effective at preventing Covid-19, created three new billionaires in the process.

Moderna's work on the vaccine has seen the wealth of professors Tim Springer from Harvard and Robert Langer from MIT increase, making $2 billion and $1.5 billion in gains, respectively.  The company’s CEO, Stephane Bancel, generated $4.8 billion this year. 

For the next year, analysts are expecting great revenues for those three companies, with analysts predicting a total of $32 billion.

According to Goldman Sachs, Moderna is expected to pocket $13.2 billion in Covid-19 vaccine revenue next year, compared to $60 million last year. Morgan Stanley said that Pfizer will rake in $19 billion in revenue, to be split with BioNTech. 

Yet, vaccine producers will not be alone in benefiting from it. Once the vaccines are being distributed, a wide range of companies, from shipping, cooling to testing are set to profit.

According to the Bank of America note it sent to clients "the billions of syringes, millions of drugstore visits and thousands of flights don't always translate to profit bonanzas for the companies in the vaccine supply chain, but we do anticipate significant benefits for some companies, especially those enabling vaccine manufacturing and those transporting the vaccine.”

On the other hand, some companies that benefited from the stay-at-home orders and lockdowns are going to suffer due to COVID-19 vaccine progress.

As of December last year, videotelephony and online chat services company Zoom Video Communications Inc.  Zoom had 10 million active users. By April 2020, the company reported that it was recording 300 million daily meeting participants. 

However, on the news of the vaccine success, Zoom’s founder and CEO Eric Yuan lost nearly $5 billion in net worth, representing 20% of his fortune. 

By Michael Kern for Safehaven.com

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