New Delhi: The first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic saw incomes of 99 percent of humanity fall and over 16 crore people were forced into poverty even as the world’s ten richest men saw their fortune more than double to USD 1.5 trillion (over Rs 111 lakh crore) at a rate of USD 1.3 billion (Rs 9,000 crore) a day, a new study said.
In its report titled ‘Inequality Kills’ released on the first day of the World Economic Forum’s online Davos Agenda summit, Oxfam International further said inequality is contributing to the death of at least 21,000 people each day, or one person every four seconds.
The world’s ten richest men saw their fortunes grow at a rate of USD 15,000 per second during the first two years of the pandemic and if these ten men were to lose 99.999 percent of their wealth tomorrow, they would still be richer than 99 percent of all the people on this planet.
“They now have six times more wealth than the poorest 3.1 billion people,” said Oxfam International’s Executive Director Gabriela Bucher.
A one-off 99% tax on the ten richest men’s pandemic windfalls, for example, could pay to make enough vaccines for the world; to provide universal healthcare and social protection, fund climate adaptation, and reduce gender-based violence in over 80 countries; while still leaving these men $8 billion better off than they were before the pandemic.
“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. Vaccines were meant to end this pandemic, yet rich governments allowed pharma billionaires and monopolies to cut off the supply to billions of people,” said Bucher.