The combined wealth of America's billionaires, including Amazon.com Inc founder Jeff Bezos and Tesla Inc chief Elon Musk, increased nearly 10 percent during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report published by the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS).
The wealth surge of America's richest men happened during a period that saw as many as 22 million Americans file for unemployment.
Even as the broader economy faced a recession, tech and stay-at-home stocks like Zoom have rallied in recent weeks, due to a surge in usage of video conferencing and remote work technology, thus boosting the net worth of billionaire founders with holdings in those companies.
"This is the tale of two pandemics, with very unequal sacrifice," said Chuck Collins, a co-author of the report.
During the period between January 1 to April 10 this year, 34 of the nation's wealthiest billionaires have seen their net worth increase by tens of millions of dollars, the report said.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
According to the IPS report, eight of these billionaires including Bezos, Zoom Video Communications Inc founder Eric Yuan and Musk saw a $1-billion jump in their total net worth.
Musk holds an 18.5 percent stake in Tesla shares, which has soared over 73 percent since the beginning of the year as traders looked beyond the short-term impact of the coronavirus pandemic.
Bezos owns about 15.1 percent in Amazon stock, which has gained nearly 31 percent this year as online orders on its platform have surged due to people staying indoors.