The wealth of the world’s billionaires reached record heights this year despite the global coronavirus crisis, led by tech, health and industry “innovators and disruptors” like Elon Musk, said a report published Wednesday.

By the end of July, the cumulative wealth of billionaires stood at around $10.2 trillion, according to a study by Swiss bank UBS and accounting giant PricewaterhouseCoopers.

That exceeded the previous peak of $8.9 trillion recorded in 2017.

The annual inventory of the super-rich’s fortunes identified 2,189 dollar billionaires at the end of July — 31 more than in 2017.

The report noted that the coronavirus crisis accelerated a trend in this select club that is seeing “innovators and disruptors” in the technology, healthcare and industry sectors edge out those in more traditional areas like entertainment or real estate.

But it gave rise to some sharp criticism at a time of pandemic-led economic hardship.

“Billionaires doing very nicely out of the #Covid_19 pandemic, ordinary people left with debt, businesses collapsing, unemployment rocketing, people suffering and making huge sacrifices whilst the worlds richest laugh all the way to the bank!,” tweeted Angela Rayner, deputy leader of Britain’s Labour Party.

The report nevertheless said billionaires had “given more than ever before in a space of a few months.”

According to the report, the pandemic initially had an impact on the world’s billionaires.

Elon Musk is one of the world's richest people Elon Musk is one of the world’s richest people Photo: AFP / Odd ANDERSEN

Their wealth fell 6.6 percent in February and March as the world feared for economic growth.

A stock market crash in March saw some tumble out of the billionaires’ club, before a sharp rebound in technology and health stocks began.

Soon, their wealth had bounced back by 27.5 percent between April and the end of July.

“Fortunes are polarising as business innovators and

The wealth of the world’s billionaires has surged by more than $2 trillion since the coronavirus pandemic began to reach an all-time high of $10.2 trillion.

The super-rich have been the big beneficiaries of the stock market rally from its March lows. Their total net worth rose by 27.5% between April and July to smash the previous record of $8.9 trillion set at the end of 2017. The number of billionaires has also grown from 2,158 in 2017 to 2,189. 

These are the findings of the 2020 UBS/PwC Billionaire Insights report. The annual study calculated that billionaires’ fortunes had fallen by 6.6%, or $564 billion, to $8 trillion through 2019 and the first quarter of 2020, in the run-up to the coronavirus crisis.

The scale of the bounce-back has surprised even the most seasoned wealth watchers.

“Billionaires did extremely well during and after the crisis,” said Josef Stadler, head of UBS Global Wealth Management’s family office division.

Some did far better than others though, depending on which sectors their businesses operate in. The pandemic has rapidly accelerated technology adoption as millions work from home and companies increasingly move their operations onto the cloud. At the same time, vast resources have been poured into the hunt for a Covid-19 vaccine.

“What we’ve seen is a dramatic polarisation of fortunes. Billionaire innovators and disruptors in tech, healthcare, and industrials are fast and massively pulling ahead of the rest of the universe,” Stadler said. 

This trend had been in evidence through 2018 and 2019, he added, but “Covid-19 has accelerated this divergence”. The numbers underline the pace of change and those classed as

  • Leonard Schleifer and George Yancopoulos, the billionaire doctors behind Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, are worth nearly $4 billion combined.
  • President Trump took a high dose of the experimental ‘antibody cocktail’ that Regeneron is developing to treat his case of COVID-19.
  • Even before he took the drug, the president was friendly with Schleifer.
  • Yancopoulos told The New York Times that the president’s request to take the antibody cocktail left him ‘conflicted.’
  • Schleifer handles the business end of Regeneron’s operations, while Yancopoulos heads up the medical research needed to develop the company’s products.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The antibody cocktail that President Trump took to fight his case of COVID-19 was the brainchild of a pair of billionaire doctors.

Leonard Schleifer and George Yancopoulos, the leaders of the pharmaceutical giant Regeneron, built a multibillion-dollar company with a reputation for producing drugs at a breakneck pace and built fortunes that rival the president’s in the process.

Representatives of Schleifer and Yancopoulos at Regeneron did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment on the billionaires’ personal histories, net worths, or careers at Regeneron.

Keep reading to learn more about Regeneron billionaires Leonard Schleifer and George Yancopoulos.

Read more: Trump just received Regeneron’s experimental COVID-19 treatment. Here’s the inside story of the biotech and its 2 billionaire founders.

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