Investors are set to cash-in on hundreds of millions of dollars in massive payouts from the World Bank if there is no global pandemic declared before July 2020.
As the deadly outbreak of coronavirus spread around the world, and with the World Health Organization (WHO) yet to declare a pandemic, skeptics are now wondering if it’s all about the money.
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After the Ebola epidemic broke out in West Africa in 2014, in took several months to get large amounts money (approximately $100 million) to the countries that desperately needed the funds, according to the World Bank.
In that time, thousands of people died of Ebola. In an effort to fight the next pandemic faster, the World Bank turned to global financial markets, issuing $425 million in “pandemic bonds” and related derivatives to pay for emergency relief.
QZ explain how the World Bank’s “pandemic bonds” work:
Investors buy the bonds and receive regular coupons payments in return. If there is an outbreak of disease, the investors don’t get their initial money back. There are two varieties of debt, both scheduled to mature in July 2020.
The first bond raised $225 million and features an interest rate of around 7%. Payout on the bond is suspended if there is an outbreak of new influenza viruses or coronaviridae (SARS, MERS).
The second, riskier bond raised $95 million at an interest rate of more than 11%. This bond keeps investors’ money if there is an outbreak of Filovirus, Coronavirus, Lassa Fever, Rift Valley Fever, and/or Crimean Congo Hemorrhagic Fever. The World Bank also issued $105 million in swap derivatives that work in a similar way.
International financial elites purchased the bonds, in effect betting against a global outbreak of disease, and if they can get to July 2020 without a pandemic the World Bank investors will get their initial contributions back, plus 7% interest on the bonds.
However if a pandemic is declared the investors will lose all of their initial contributions, which would go to help the fight against the pandemic.