The world's 1,000 richest people have already bounced back from COVID-19 wealth losses, but it could take more than a decade for the poorest to recover, Oxfam warns

  • The 1,000 richest people on Earth have already recovered from coronavirus-related wealth losses, an Oxfam study revealed.
  • Meanwhile, it could take more than a decade for those in poverty to recover, the charity said.
  • The top 10 billionaires, including Jeff Bezos, have enough money combined to pay for a COVID-19 vaccine for everyone in the world, it said.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

It took nine months for the top 1,000 billionaires in the world to bounce back from financial losses triggered by the pandemic — but billions of people will remain in poverty for more than a decade, according to a new Oxfam survey released on Monday.

The study, called "The Inequality Virus," said that the combined wealth of billionaires increased by $3.9 trillion between 18 March and 31 December 2020, driven by a booming stock market and government support, the study said.

It took names from the real-time Forbes' 2020 Billionaire List, which lists Amazon's CEO Jeff Bezos, Tesla and SpaceX's CEO Elon Musk, Microsoft's co-founder Bill Gates, Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Berkshire Hathaway's CEO Warren Buffett in the top 10.

Jeff Bezos is currently the world's richest person, according to the list.

Oxfam noted that the world's wealthiest were "mainly white men."

With their wealth rising by half a trillion dollars, these 10 billionaires have more than enough money combined to pay for a COVID-19 vaccine for everyone on the planet, and to make sure no one ends up in poverty, the study said.

The top-1,000 richest people have all recovered any wealth they lost at the start of the pandemic — in comparison, it took five years after the financial crisis in 2008 for the world's richest people to return to their pre-crisis levels, the study said.

As part of the Oxfam study, a global survey of 295 economists from 79 countries found that 87% of respondents expected income inequality in their country to increase or majorly increase as a result of the pandemic.

More than 50% of those economists said gender inequality would likely or very likely increase.

Gabriela Bucher, executive director of Oxfam, said in a statement on Monday: "The deep divide between the rich and poor is proving as deadly as the virus.

Read more: The pandemic dented pharmacy chains like CVS and Walgreens, but the vaccine rollout could give them a boost

"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 and put food on the table," she said.

Women and marginalized minorities, who are "bearing the brunt of this crisis," are more likely to go into poverty, become hungry, and be excluded from healthcare, Bucher said.

The Oxfam study is being published on the opening day of the World Economic Forum's "Davos Agenda," at which business executives, politicians and global leaders discuss the state of the global economy during a six-day virtual summit.

According to the Forbes Billionaire list, Bezos is the wealthiest man on Earth with a net worth of $191.5 billion, Musk is close behind with a net worth of $183.2 billion, while Gates' net worth amounts to $121.5 billion.


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