Covid: World's 10 richest men made £400 billion during pandemic - enough to vaccinate everyone

Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk & Jeff Bezos.  Three of the ten richest men in the world
Elon Musk, the second richest man in the world according the Forbes Billionaire's list Credit: AP

The combined wealth of the world's 10 richest men - including Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg - rose by £400 billion during the coronavirus pandemic, enough to pay for the Covid-19 vaccine for everyone and reverse the poverty caused by the crisis.

A new Oxfam report, The Inequality Virus, has revealed Covid-19 has widened the gulf between the very richest and poorest in that period.

It looked at information taken from the Forbes' Billionaire's list and Credit Suisse's Global Wealth Report.

The charity warns if governments fail to take urgent action to tackle the growing tide of poverty, the fight to reverse it will be set back a decade.

Danny Sriskandarajah, Oxfam GB Chief Executive said: "Billions of people were living on the edge when the pandemic began and had no resources or support to weather this fierce storm.

"In countries across the world we see people struggling to feed their families and keep a roof over their heads, while paid employment becomes harder to come by.

"At the same time, a tiny number of individuals have pocketed more money in nine months than they could spend in a lifetime."

A South Sudanese refugee studies in his room in Deng, Uganda. Credit: Oxfam

The charity claims Covid-19 could deepen the divide in almost every country at once, the first time this has happened since records began nearly a century ago.

It warns that:

  • Half a billion more people could be living on less than £4 a day in 2030 than at the start of the pandemic.

  • It could take at least 14 times longer for people in the poverty trap to return to life before the pandemic

The report highlight that the combined wealth of the world's billionaires totals £8.8 trillion, which is equal to what all the G20 countries (of which the UK is one) have spent on Covid-19 health and economic recovery.

Mr Sriskandarajah added: “These facts are shameful.

"Governments cannot continue to look the other way, they must act.

"Fair taxation on the very richest could help with the global recovery, raise more money to fight poverty and help shape more equal societies.”

A woman works on a clothing line making winter jackets in a factory in Vietnam Credit: Oxfam

Women, largely employed in low-paid, insecure jobs have been hit the hardest. Oxfam calculates an extra 112 million women are at risk of unemployment around the world. Most work in healthcare and are more exposed to the virus.

Health inequality is also highlighted with many more people from black, Asian and minority ethnic communities, as well as the poorest, more likely to die of Covid-19 around the world but also here in the UK.

The anti-poverty charity is calling for taxes on the profits of the super-rich and the reversal of recent cuts in aid by governments around the world including the UK.

It estimates a tax on profits of the top 32 countries on the planet would have raised £76 billion last year, enough to financially support the jobless and all children and elderly living in low and middle income countries.