Two founders of Moderna and one of the top investors in the pharmaceutical and biotechnology company have made it to Forbes’s list of the wealthiest people in the United States after developing COVID-19 vaccines that have been used throughout the globe.
While the rest of the world struggled with a crumbling economy, job losses, and financial hardship, the 400 wealthiest Americans saw their collective fortune increase more than 40 percent over the last year to $4.5 trillion, according to Forbes.
Among them were three prominent members of Moderna, whose COVID-19 vaccine was authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Dec. 18, 2020. Since then, 152 million doses of the Moderna vaccine have been administered, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Co-founder and current chairman Noubar Afeyan, co-founder and board member Robert Langer, and investor Timothy Springer all made the Forbes 400 list for 2021, which requires a minimum net worth of $2.9 billion.
Springer was placed 176th on the list, with a net worth of $5.9 billion. Ageyan landed in the 212th spot with $5 billion, while Langer ranked just 10 places behind at 222nd, with a net worth of $4.9 billion.
Springer, 72, is an immunologist and professor of biological chemistry and molecular pharmacology at Harvard Medical School, and initially invested $5 million in Moderna in 2010. He now owns 3.5 percent of the firm’s shares, and also has shares in three smaller publicly traded biotech firms: Selecta Biosciences, Scholar Rock, and Morphic Therapeutic.
Afeyan, 59, is the founder and CEO of Cambridge, Massachusetts, life sciences innovation firm Flagship Pioneering. The engineer was born in Beirut to Armenian parents, but fled with his family to Montreal during Lebanon’s civil war in 1975. As well as having a stake in Moderna, he also owns shares in over a dozen publicly traded biotech companies in the United States.
Langer, 73, is a scientist and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he leads the eponymous Langer Lab. He holds a 3 percent stake in Moderna, as well as shares in SQZ Biotechnologies, Seer, and Sigilon Therapeutics, which he founded along with postdoc students from his lab.
Moderna, along with competing vaccine manufacturers Pfizer and their German partner BioNTech, have massed billions of dollars in vaccine sales since the global pandemic began and have seen their share prices skyrocket.
Johnson & Johnson and Europe’s AstraZeneca have repeatedly said they do not intend to profit from their vaccines.