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Oxfam calls for one-off tax as super rich see their wealth soar during pandemic

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Yet the poorest are getting poorer

Fortunes of the wealthiest in the world have more than doubled during the coronavirus pandemic, according to Oxfam.

The super-rich have swelled their coffers during the pandemic thanks to ample financial stimulus that pumped up stocks, the anti-poverty organisation said.

Oxfam has called for governments to impose a one-time 99% tax on billionaires and use the money to fund production of vaccines for the poor - part of an effort to combat global inequality widened by the coronavirus pandemic.

It comes as poor countries suffered more than their share from covid because of unequal access to vaccines, which have mostly gone to rich nations.

Just over 7% of people in low-income countries have received a vaccine dose compared to more than 75% in high-income countries.

Oxfam has created its report ahead of discussions at the World Economic Forum's online gathering of political and business leaders this week.

Oxfam International executive director Gabriela Bucher said: "When governments did the rescue packages and pumped trillions into the economy and to financial markets in order to support the economy for all, what happened is a lot of it went into the pockets of the billionaires."

A one-off 99% tax on the 10 richest men's pandemic windfalls could earn more than $800bn (£584bn) and be used to fund a vaccination expansion effort and other progressive social spending, the aid agency said.

"We would also be able to compensate for the damage of climate change and have policies that address gender-based violence," while still leaving the 10 billionaires $8bn (£5.85bn) richer than they were at the start of the pandemic, Bucher added.

According to Forbes figures cited by the charity, the world's 10 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.

Collectively their wealth grew from $700bn to $1.5tn.

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% 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," he added.