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Vaccination billionaires

The federal government wants to act with all its might against people who are unwilling to vaccinate and behind the scenes, third - party and booster vaccinations are already being negotiated. Somehow, the ordered vaccine has to be injected, after all, the EU only ordered another 1.8 billion doses of vaccine from the German company BioNTech at the end of May – and this, mind you, not for the current vaccination campaign, but for the period from December 2021 to 2023. Just yesterday, BioNTech reported a profit of 2.8 billion euros for the last quarter - with just 5.3 billion euros in sales. The Corona vaccinations are the license to print money. Research and production capacities were largely financed by the taxpayer, i.e. the general public. We now have to pay billions for absurdly overpriced doses of vaccine. This pleases the new vaccine billionaires. BioNTech founder Ugur Sahin is now one of the ten richest Germans with a fortune of more than 18 billion US$ ; BioNTech major shareholders Andreas and Thomas Strüngmann, with a company share of US$ 52 billion, have now overtaken the discounter dynasty Albrecht and are now the richest Germans.

Developing a new vaccine is an expensive undertaking. It is helpful for the general public to share in the costs and assume the risks. For example, the federal government alone has provided the Mainz-based pharmaceutical company BioNTech with a total of 375 million euros as a non-repayable grant for the development of the company’s own corona vaccine. This corresponds pretty much to the sum of 359.9 million euros that BioNTech reports in its Annual Report for the year 2020 for “services received” in the Research and development cost block. This refers to BioNTech’s share in the development of the corona vaccine financed jointly with partner Pfizer. In total, BioNTech has received more subsidies from the federal government than it itself reports as material expenses for corona vaccine development. It is interesting in this context that the Mainz company has apparently not even managed to spend the entire state subsidies. Only 239 million euros are recorded in the annual balance sheet, and a further 88 million euros are accounted for as “compensation for future expenses”. Based on these figures, it can therefore be concluded that the entire BioNTech share of research and development costs was financed by the general public.

In addition to the research and development costs, the production costs also have an impact on a pharmaceutical company. But here, too, the general public has taken BioNTech as much as possible under the arms. For example, the investment costs for the expansion of its own production capacity were largely financed by an EIB (European Investment Bank) loan secured by the EU. For the line of credit provided by the EIB in June 2020, the company will only pay the basic interest rate of 1.0%, with a further 2.5% interest deferred and not to be repaid until the end of 2026. For comparison, the Annual Report gives an effective interest rate of 9.0 percent for a convertible bond that was also launched on the financial market in June. The debt capital that BioNTech has used to build up vaccine production has thus also been significantly subsidized by the general public – here in the form of the EU and its development bank.

Now one may take the position that it is quite in the interest of the general public when a small biotech company develops and produces an innovative vaccine. That may be. However, it is certainly not in the public interest for the said company to sell this vaccine to the general public at an overpriced price, making billions in profits. How high the real production costs of the BioNTech vaccine are, of course, can only be estimated without a closer look at the books. However, if the company reports a profit of 2.8 billion euros on sales of 5.3 billion euros in the last quarter, i.e. more than half of sales, this is a very clear sign that the vaccine is certainly not sold at cost price.

While the pharmaceutical company Astra Zeneca – certainly not in the public interest-sells its vaccine for 2.50 euros per dose, BioNTech demands a proud 16.50 euros per dose. In this way, a return on sales of more than 50% can be achieved. By comparison, the highly profitable carmaker VW generated “only” 8.8 billion euros in sales last year at 223 billion euros – not more than 50%, but less than 4% of sales. A return on sales of more than 50% is a more than exceptional result, even in the high-margin pharmaceutical industry, which could never be achieved on the free market with free prices.

So it is no surprise that BioNTech is now one of the most valuable companies in the country. Measured by the share price, the Mainz-based company is currently valued at US$ 109 billion. This is more than the two German chemical giants Bayer (US$ 46 billion) and BASF (US$ 62 billion) combined and also more than the automotive group Daimler (US$76 billion). However, Daimler AG operates worldwide and has almost 300,000 employees, while BioNTech, with its fewer than 2,000 employees, is virtually a tiny company. But BioNTech apparently has the license to print money. And while corporations such as Bayer, BASF and Daimler sell their products in competition to corporate and end customers at a marketable price, the only customer of BioNTech is the state and apparently knows neither price calculations nor controlling when it comes to corona and willingly pays moon prices … it is not his tax money that is spent on it and the influence of the pharmaceutical lobby on politics is legendary anyway.

The winners of this fabulous business at the expense of the general public are the owners of BioNTech. First of all, the company founder Ugur Sahin should be mentioned. According to the Annual report, he was already one of the best-earning German managers last year with a total remuneration of 16.5 million euros. Based on the current share price, Sahin’s company share of 17% is worth US$ 18.5 billion today. Sahin joins Albrechts (Aldi), Klaus-Michael Kühne (Kühne + Nagel), Dieter Schwartz (Lidl) and the BMW siblings Quandt/Klatten in the list of the richest Germans. There has never been such a rapid rise to the list of multi-billionaires in Germany, and there has never been a single case of a multi-billionaire building his fortune exclusively with taxpayers money.

But even Ugur Sahin is only the second or third largest profiteer of the vaccination campaign. 47.37% of the company BioNTech belongs to the twins Andreas and Thomas Strüngmann, who once built up the generic manufacturer Hexal and later sold it to the Swiss Pharmamulti Novartis. The Strüngmann brothers ' BioNTech share alone is now worth 52 billion US$, making them the richest Germans even before the Aldi heirs Albrecht-their wealth has also been almost completely redistributed by EU taxpayers.

For both Sahin and the Strüngmann brothers, the end of the miraculous increase in wealth is far from foreseeable. While the vaccination campaign in the cash-strapped countries of Europe and the United States is slowly approaching its end point, BioNTech and its partner Pfizer will not give up their license to print money so easily. The pharmaceutical managers have big plans. A press release from BioNTech quotes Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla as follows:

“Continuous vaccination beyond 2021 is crucial as COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly in Europe and worldwide. … More than a year later, we continue to learn more about COVID-19 and are working to determine if, similar to seasonal flu, annual vaccination could provide the most lasting protection. We are proud to be a long-term partner of the EU in the fight against this devastating pandemic and remain committed to producing and delivering billions more doses of our vaccine each year as needed.”

And anyone who looks at the policies of the EU and especially Germany must probably concede that this business plan could work.