Soaring demand for medical supplies and pharmaceuticals globally landed a bigger number of Chinese healthcare tycoons on Forbes’ newest list of the world’s richest. 


The coronavirus pandemic—awful in so many ways—has been a boon for many healthcare companies, from vaccine makers to diagnostic test producers. Soaring demand has propelled the sector’s growth, causing the fortunes of the ten richest healthcare moguls on Forbes’ 2021 World’s Billionaires list to skyrocket by 100% on average over the past year.  

Healthcare billionaires from China made a strong showing. Seven of the ten richest healthcare billionaires on the 2021 billionaires list are from China, up from five a year ago. Rounding out the top ten: one Indian, one American and one South Korean. 

The richest person in healthcare this year is Jiang Rensheng, who chairs a Chinese vaccine firm developing a coronavirus vaccine. He is also the healthcare billionaire whose fortune grew the most this year in percentage terms, rising by 221%. He and his family are worth $24.4 billion. Chen Bang (worth $17.9 billion), who chairs China’s largest eye hospital group, follows second, with a 136% gain thanks to healthy market demand. And coming in third, with a 109% gain, is Thomas Frist Jr. and his family (worth $15.7 billion), who run one of the largest U.S. hospital operators.

Like vaccines and hospital care, medical supplies and pharmaceuticals remain globally indispensable. And several of the world’s richest healthcare billionaires derive their fortunes from business in those areas. South Korea’s Seo Jung-jin (worth $14.2 billion) was propelled into the top 10 list this year thanks to his biopharma firm Celltrion (from which he stepped down as chairman at the end of 2020). Shares of Celltrion, which was recently granted emergency use authorization for an experimental Covid-19 treatment, are up 59% since last year’s list.

Mindray Medical’s Li Xiting (worth $21.5 billion) and Xu Hang (worth $19.5 billion) were bumped higher on the list this year as their medical device supplier’s market value rose steadily, with shares hitting an all-time high in February. 

Here are the top 10 richest people in healthcare; net worths are as of March 5, 2021.

#1 | Jiang Rensheng & family


NET WORTH: $24.4 BILLION

SOURCE OF WEALTH: VACCINES

RESIDENCE: CHINA

Jiang is the chairman of vaccine manufacturer Chongqing Zhifei Biological Products. Zhifei’s shares soared last summer after it won approval for human trials of its Covid-19 vaccine. 

#2 | Li Xiting


NET WORTH: $21.5 BILLION

SOURCE OF WEALTH: MEDICAL DEVICES

RESIDENCE: CHINA

Li is a founder and chairman of Mindray Bio-Medical Electronics, which supplies medical devices like ventilators to hospitals globally. His wealth has nearly doubled in the past year, when demand for supplies exploded.

#3 | Zhong Huijuan


NET WORTH: $19.7 BILLION

SOURCE OF WEALTH: PHARMACEUTICALS

RESIDENCE: CHINA

Zhong founded and chairs Chinese drugmaker Hansoh Pharmaceutical, which she co-owns with her daughter Sun Yuan. She is one of the world’s wealthiest women, and is married to the fifth richest healthcare billionaire, Sun Piaoyang. 

#4 | Xu Hang


NET WORTH: $19.5 BILLION

SOURCE OF WEALTH: MEDICAL SUPPLIES

RESIDENCE: CHINA

Xu is a founder and non-executive director of medical device supplier Mindray Medical. His fortune has increased 74% since the pandemic began.

#5 | Sun Piaoyang


NET WORTH: $18.9 BILLION

SOURCE OF WEALTH: PHARMACEUTICALS

RESIDENCE: CHINA

Sun is the majority shareholder and CEO of Jiangsu Hengrui Medicine, a publicly traded Chinese pharma giant that was once state-owned. Shares of Jiangsu Hengrui are up more than 7% since last year. He is married to Zhong Huijuan. 

#6 | Chen Bang


NET WORTH: $17.9 BILLION

SOURCE OF WEALTH: HOSPITALS

RESIDENCE: CHINA

Chen chairs China’s largest ophthalmology chain, Aier Eye Hospital Group. Its locations span multiple continents. Shares of Aier, which trades on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, are up more than 67% since last year.

#7 | Thomas Frist Jr. & family


NET WORTH: $15.7 BILLION

SOURCE OF WEALTH: HOSPITALS

RESIDENCE: U.S.

Frist is a founder of HCA Healthcare, one of the largest hospital operators in the U.S. It ended 2020 with $51.5 billion in sales, driven by a boost from pandemic-related federal government aid.  

#8 | Seo Jung-jin


NET WORTH: $14.2 BILLION

SOURCE OF WEALTH: BIOPHARMA

RESIDENCE: SOUTH KOREA

Jung-jin is cofounder of biopharma firm Celltrion, which trades on the Korea Exchange. His net worth more than doubled during the pandemic. He stepped down as chair at the end of 2020, and is now focusing his efforts on a blood test startup.

#9 | Cyrus Poonawalla


NET WORTH: $12.7 BILLION

SOURCE OF WEALTH: VACCINES

RESIDENCE: INDIA

Poonawalla founded the Serum Institute of India, now the world’s largest vaccine maker, in 1966. Last summer, he took a gamble by manufacturing the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine before its emergency authorization last December, and now plans to ramp up production to 100 million doses a month.

#10 | Cen Junda


NET WORTH: $11.6 BILLION

SOURCE OF WEALTH: PHARMACEUTICALS

RESIDENCE: CHINA

Cen’s wealth mainly comes from stakes in Hansoh Pharmaceutical and Jiangsu Hengrui, whose stocks rose 42% and 7%, respectively, over the past year. In that time, his fortune nearly doubled.