Oxfam: Covid-19 pandemic makes rich much richer as poor suffer

The Inequality Virus report was published ahead of virtual Davos forum

Billionaires including Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Tesla founder Elon Musk have seen their wealth soar during the Covid-19 pandemic while the world’s poor face years of hardship, charity Oxfam said on Monday as it demanded steps to tackle inequality, Reuters reported.

Nations have a “shrinking window of opportunity” to build a fair, green recovery, according to “The Inequality Virus” report, published as global leaders tune in for the World Economic Forum’s virtual “Davos Dialogue” meeting.

“We stand to witness the greatest rise in inequality since records began,” Gabriela Bucher, executive director of Oxfam International, said in a statement as the charity called for higher wealth taxes and stronger protections for workers. “Rigged economies are funnelling wealth to a rich elite who are riding out the pandemic in luxury, while those on the frontline of the pandemic - shop assistants, healthcare workers, and market vendors - are struggling to pay the bills.”

Covid-19 has unleashed an economic storm that hit the poor and vulnerable hardest, with women and marginalised workers facing the worst of job losses and the World Bank warning more than 100 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty. It could take more than a decade to reduce the number of people living in poverty back to pre-crisis levels, Oxfam said.

Meanwhile, the collective wealth of the world’s billionaires rose $3.9 trillion between March and December 2020 to reach $11.95 trillion, the report calculated.

The 10 richest men, a list led by Bezos and Musk which also includes LVMH luxury group’s CEO Bernard Arnault, Microsoft’s Bill Gates and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, saw their net worth increase by $540bn in the same period, Oxfam said. That sum would be enough to prevent anyone from falling into poverty as a result of the pandemic and pay for a vaccine for everyone on earth, researchers calculated.

The 51st World Economic Forum 2021 will be held online from January 25-29.

More on this subject: Coronavirus

Similar articles