Global Billionaire Wealth Surges $4 Trillion Over Pandemic

As over 2.8 million people have died globally from COVID in the past year, the wealth of the world’s billionaires has surged.

The planet’s 2,365 billionaires have seen their wealth increase $4 trillion, or 54 percent, during the pandemic year. Their combined wealth rose from $8.04 trillion to $12.39 trillion between March 18, 2020 and March 18, 2021.

Thirteen billionaires saw their wealth increase over 500 percent (see the “500 Percent Club” below). Many of them are connected to companies that benefited enormously from the conditions of the pandemic, including having their competition shut down or diminished.

There are 270 new billionaires on this year’s global list, while 91 billionaires fell off the list.

The analysis was conducted for the Patriotic Millionaires (and their affiliated UK Millionaires) and Millionaires for Humanity by the Institute for Policy Studies –Program on

— source Institute for Policy Studies | Chuck Collins, Omar Ocampo | Mar 31, 2021

Nullius in verba

How Bill Gates Impeded Global Access to Covid Vaccines

On February 11, 2020, public health and infectious disease experts gathered by the hundreds at the World Health Organization’s Geneva mothership. The official pronouncement of a pandemic was still a month out, but the agency’s international brain trust knew enough to be worried. Burdened by a sense of borrowed time, they spent two days furiously sketching an “R&D Blueprint” in preparation for a world upended by the virus then known as 2019-nCoV.

The resulting document summarized the state of coronavirus research and proposed ways to accelerate the development of diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines. The underlying premise was that the world would unite against the virus. The global research community would maintain broad and open channels of communication, since collaboration and information-sharing minimize duplication and accelerate discovery. The group also drew up plans for global comparative trials overseen by the WHO, to assess the merits of treatments and vaccines.

One issue not mentioned in the paper: intellectual property. If the worst came to pass, the experts and researchers assumed cooperation would define the global response, with the

— source | Alexander Zaitchik | Apr 12, 2021

Nullius in verba

We Created the ‘Pandemicene’

For the world’s viruses, this is a time of unprecedented opportunity. An estimated 40,000 viruses lurk in the bodies of mammals, of which a quarter could conceivably infect humans. Most do not, because they have few chances to leap into our bodies. But those chances are growing. Earth’s changing climate is forcing animals to relocate to new habitats, in a bid to track their preferred environmental conditions. Species that have never coexisted will become neighbors, creating thousands of infectious meet-cutes in which viruses can spill over into unfamiliar hosts—and, eventually, into us. Many scientists have argued that climate change will make pandemics more likely, but a groundbreaking new analysis shows that this worrying future is already here, and will be difficult to address. The planetary network of viruses and wildlife “is rewiring itself right now,” Colin Carlson, a global-change biologist at Georgetown University, told me. And “while we thought we understood the rules of the game, again and again, reality sat us down and taught us: That’s not how biology works.”

In 2019, Carlson and his colleague Greg Albery began creating a massive simulation that maps the past, present, and future ranges of 3,100 mammal species, and predicts the likelihood of viral spillovers if those ranges overlap. The simulation strained a lot of computing power; “every time we turn it on, an angel dies,” Carlson told me. And the results, which have finally been published today, are disturbing. Even under the most optimistic climate scenarios, the coming decades will see roughly 300,000 first encounters between species that normally don’t interact, leading to about 15,000 spillovers wherein viruses enter naive hosts.

“It’s a little harrowing,” says Vineet Menachery, a virologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch. The study suggests that the alarming pace at which new or reemergent

— source | Ed Yong | Apr 28, 2022

Nullius in verba

How America’s Ultrawealthy Won the Pandemic

Deadly viruses don’t much care what’s in your wallet, but socioeconomic privilege and access to wealth do wonders when it comes to not just surviving a plague but cashing in on it. Having spent more than a year pre-COVID working on a new nonfiction book about the absurdity of wealth in America during this second Gilded Age, I figured the pandemic would throw a wrench into my story. Yet perhaps unsurprisingly, over the past year, the superrich have remained safely ensconced on their side of an economic chasm that just keeps widening as investment profits flow to the very top while America’s less fortunate struggle just to get by. I put together these stats to demonstrate the degree to which our most privileged citizens have benefitted, often at the expense of the rest of us.

Who’s on top?

Long before the pandemic hit, America’s economic spoils flowed disproportionately to the top earners, while more than half of the population failed to thrive.

How the rich fared during the pandemic

In the first three months of 2020, the combined wealth of Americans with assets of $30 million or more dipped 26%—but then bounced back almost entirely by the end of August.

The pandemic relief passed in December 2020 included a bipartisan provision that will save America’s wealthiest 1 percent an estimated $120 billion in taxes.

— source | Michael Mechanic | May+June 2021

Nullius in verba

Covid had devastating toll on poor and low-income communities in US

The devastating impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on poor and low-income communities across America is laid bare in a new report released on Monday that concludes that while the virus did not discriminate between rich and poor, society and government did.

As the US draws close to the terrible landmark of 1 million deaths from coronavirus, the glaringly disproportionate human toll that has been exacted is exposed by the Poor People’s Pandemic Report. Based on a data analysis of more than 3,000 counties across the US, it finds that people in poorer counties have died overall at almost twice the rate of those in richer counties.

Looking at the most deadly surges of the virus, the disparity in death rates grows even more pronounced. During the third pandemic wave in the US, over the winter of 2020 and

— source | Ed Pilkington | 4 Apr 2022

Nullius in verba

Capitalists & Thieves Who Got Rich While We Got Sick

these are the early weeks of the pandemic, late April, early May 2020, really scary times, no vaccine, masks in short supply, our hospitals overrun. And this contractor, who I had found in federal purchasing data, had really come out of nowhere and had a really sizable deal that stood out. But in addition to that, he was supplying, supposedly, 6 million masks to the Veterans Administration, which oversees the largest hospital network in the country. So he had a pretty vital role in our pandemic response. And just sort of doing the due diligence, I wondered how he got this deal, and called him, and he ended up saying I could tag along on this private jet, and in doing so, over the course of maybe 72 hours, flying first to Georgia and then to Chicago, realized that he didn’t have any masks. He had claimed that they were, you know, bought out from under him. Next, he had a new line on masks. It involved some interesting characters. And slowly but surely, as I’m sort of observing this, I began to wonder if the whole thing was made up and if in fact he had conspired to defraud the federal government.

And, you know, we didn’t know everything then, but this was really crucial information that I felt the American public needed to know, so we reported what we knew. And that really set me off on more than a year of reporting, following around not just federal contractors but people who entered this space, sort of seeing the chaos cascading down from the federal government

— source | Apr 12, 2022

Nullius in verba

Covid-19 Vaccine Apartheid Is Exacerbating Global Inequalities

The highly uneven global distribution of Covid-19 vaccines is exacerbating deadly inequalities between—and within—countries, threatening to undermine socio-economic gains throughout the developing world, the United Nations warned Monday.

Two years into a pandemic that has killed millions, 2.8 billion people—91% of whom reside in low-income nations—have yet to receive their first lifesaving shot, according to a new analysis released this month by the U.N. Development Programme (UNDP).

Although there has been a substantial increase in the total number of Covid-19 vaccines administered over the past several months, the allocation of doses remains starkly unequal. Of the 10.7 billion jabs given out worldwide, just 1% have gone into the arms of people in low-income countries, the UNDP found.

In addition to giving the coronavirus more opportunities to circulate among unprotected populations—increasing the likelihood of new, potentially vaccine-resistant variants emerging and further prolonging the global public health emergency—vaccine inequity has harmed national economic recovery efforts, thereby widening “the poverty gap between rich

— source | Kenny Stancil | Mar 28, 2022

Nullius in verba

Black people are dying from coronavirus — air pollution is one of the main culprits

During the turmoil of the coronavirus pandemic, we’re hearing often from our leaders that “we’re all in this together.” While true, some of us are in it more than others; black Americans are dying at a faster rate from the novel coronavirus than other groups. There are many reasons for this disparity, but a big one that’s getting too little notice is one of the many systemic failures endangering black Americans: their exposure to air pollution.

Harvard researchers recently found that even the smallest increase of exposure to a common air pollutant is associated with a 15 percent increase in the death rate from COVID-19 (on top of increased risk of lung cancer and heart problems). Fossil fuel plants are among the top emitters of this particle, along with other pollutants that can cause or worsen asthma and shortness of breath. Partly due to a history of redlining, African Americans live closer to fossil fuel infrastructure than the rest of the population: A 2017 joint report from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and the Clean Air Task Force found that more than a million African Americans live within a half-mile of an oil and gas facility.

— source | Jared DeWese | 05/24/20

Nullius in verba


700 US Billionaires Got $1.7 Trillion Richer During Two Years of Pandemic

During the first two years of the coronavirus pandemic, the collective wealth of billionaires in the United States grew by a staggering $1.7 trillion as Covid-19 killed millions of people across the globe and threw entire nations into turmoil, worsening extreme poverty, hunger, and other preexisting crises.

Released Friday to coincide with the second anniversary of the World Health Organization’s official pandemic declaration for Covid-19, the latest billionaire fortune analysis by Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) finds that the 704 billionaires in the U.S. now own more combined wealth than the 165 million people in the bottom half of the country’s wealth distribution.

“For billionaires, it’s been two years of raking in the riches, while for most families it’s been two years of fear, frustration, and financial worry,” ATF executive director

— source | Jake Johnson | Mar 11, 2022

Nullius in verba


Omicron BA.2 subvariant fuels new global surge of the pandemic

On Monday, the 7-day average of daily new deaths per 1 million people in Hong Kong reached 29.18. This is over 50 percent higher than the peak of 18.31 reached in the United Kingdom on January 23, 2021, nearly triple the United States’ peak of 10.22 on January 13, 2021, and higher than the previous world record of 26.2 set in Peru on April 23, 2021. COVID-19 deaths in Hong Kong continue to rise exponentially and could surpass 50 per 1 million people in the coming days.

Significantly, the BA.2 Omicron subvariant, with an I1221T mutation on the spike protein, accounts for 100 percent of all sequenced infections in Hong Kong. The city is a canary in the coal mine for the next stage of the pandemic, in which the BA.2 subvariant is forecast to become dominant worldwide.

Only 37 days after official global infections reached a peak of 3.44 million on January 24, 2022, the decline abruptly stopped at 1.48 million on March 2 and is once again rising steadily, marking the start of the latest global surge of the pandemic.

— source | 9 Mar 2022

Nullius in verba