The pandemic has made the global superrich much richer – but plunged more people into poverty, according to Oxfam.
Lower incomes for the world’s poorest contributed to the death of 21,000 people each day, a new report by the charity claims.
Meanwhile the world’s ten richest men have more than doubled their collective fortunes since March 2020, Oxfam said.
The charity usually releases a report on global inequality to coincide with the start of the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, an event which sees thousands of corporate and political leaders, celebrities and economists gather for a glittering event in the Swiss ski resort.
But for the second year running, the meeting will be online-only after the emergence of the Omicron variant scuppered plans.
‘Off the scale’
Discussions taking place this week will include the likely future of the pandemic, vaccine inequality and the energy transition.
Danny Sriskandarajah, Oxfam GB’s chief executive, said: “This year, what’s happening is off the scale.
“There’s been a new billionaire created almost every day during this pandemic, meanwhile 99 per cent of the world’s population are worse off because of lockdowns, lower international trade, less international tourism, and as a result of that, 160 million more people have been pushed into poverty.
“Something is deeply flawed with our economic system.”
According to Forbes figures referenced by the charity, the world’s ten richest men are: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bernard Arnault and family, Bill Gates, Larry Ellison, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Mark Zuckerberg, Steve Ballmer and Warren Buffet.
Their wealth collectively grew from $700 billion to $1.5 trillion. Musk’s fortune grew by more than 1,000 per cent – while Gates’ rose by a comparatively modest 30 per cent.
And the Oxfam report, which also relies on data from the World Bank, said a lack of access to healthcare, gender-based violence, hunger and climate breakdown contributed to one death every four seconds.
It said 160 million more people were living on less than £4.02 a day than would have been without the impact of Covid.
“Even during a global crisis our unfair economic systems manage to deliver eye-watering windfalls for the wealthiest but fail to protect the poorest,” Sriskandarajah said.
He added that political leaders now have the opportunity to back bolder economic policies to “change the deadly course we are on”, including higher taxes on capital and wealth.