Pandemic widens gap between rich and poor

Oxfam warned on Monday (January 25) that for the first time since records began, inequality has grown in almost every country in the world thanks to the pandemic-

but billionaires have seen their wealth soar.

''We're seeing the biggest surge in inequality during this period. And what has been so shocking is 10 men - 10 billionaires - have made half a trillion (U.S. dollars) during the pandemic period. So that is enough to vaccinate - you could buy vaccines to vaccinate the whole world and also prevent anybody from falling into poverty. Everybody on Earth would be protected from falling into poverty through that half a trillion."

Oxfam's Executive Director Gabriela Bucher said its "Inequality Virus Report' found COVID-19 unleashed an economic storm that hit the poor and vulnerable hardest.

With women and marginalized workers facing the worst of job losses.

And the World Bank warning more than 100 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty.

"So there are many different factors, but one thing we've seen is the thousand billionaires have actually recovered their pandemic losses in nine months. So they were mostly in the stock exchange. So that has recovered and their their wealth has recovered, whereas for the millions and billions in poverty, it will take more than a decade - possibly 14 years - for them to go back to pre-pandemic levels."

To tackle the crisis, Oxfam is calling for higher taxes on wealth and corporations, alongside stronger protections for workers.

It says a temporary tax on excess profits made by the 32 global corporations that have profited the most during the pandemic could have raised $104 billion in 2020 alone.

Video Transcript

- Oxfam warned on Monday that for the first time since records began, inequality has grown in almost every country in the world Thanks to the pandemic. But billionaires have seen their wealth soar.

GABRIELA BUCHER: We're seeing the biggest surge in inequality during this period. And what has been so shocking is 10 men, 10 billionaires, have made half a trillion during the pandemic period. So that is enough to vaccinate-- you could buy vaccines to vaccinate the whole world and also prevent anybody from falling into poverty. Everybody on Earth would be protected from falling into poverty through that half a trillion.

- Oxfam's Executive Director Gabriela Bucher said it's inequality virus report found COVID-19 unleashed an economic storm that hit the poor and vulnerable hardest, with women and marginalized workers facing the worst of job losses, and the World Bank warning more than 100 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty.

GABRIELA BUCHER: So there are many different factors. But one thing we've seen is the thousand billionaires have actually recovered their pandemic losses in nine months. So they were mostly in the stock exchange. So that has recovered, and their wealth has recovered, whereas for the millions and billions in poverty, it will take more than a decade, possibly 14 years for them to go back to pre-pandemic levels.

- To tackle the crisis, Oxfam is calling for higher taxes on wealth and corporations alongside stronger protections for workers. It says a temporary tax on excess profits made by the 32 global corporations that have profited the most during the pandemic could have raised $104 billion in 2020 alone.