Prince Harry and Meghan Markle are continuing to do their bit to make sure everyone around the world is protected against COVID-19.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, who have spoken openly about vaccine equity for months, were among over a hundred people who signed an open letter urging “world leaders to do what is necessary to end this crisis and unite behind a People’s Vaccine.”
The letter released Friday stated: “Sadly, despite what some leaders in wealthy countries would like us to believe, the pandemic is not over. But it is within our grasp to end it and ensure everyone is protected. That requires giving everyone, everywhere access to safe and effective vaccines and other life-saving COVID-19 technologies. This is possible, thanks to the incredible advances of science and the public investment of governments around the world.”
It continued, “However, the cruel reality is that self defeating nationalism, pharmaceutical monopolies and inequality stand in our way. We did not need to reach the milestones of two years and an estimated twenty million deaths from COVID-19. This was avoidable. We ask world leaders to come together and coordinate a response to solve this unprecedented crisis of historic proportions.
“We urge them to commit to sharing the economic burden required to fund the next stages of vaccines, treatments, testing, and the medical oxygen and PPE needed by healthcare workers around the world. The commitment of world leaders according to each country’s ability to pay is crucial.
“Nations must urgently come forward and provide their share of the long-term, sustainable finance that will enable us to make the whole world safe.”
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The letter accused the European Union, the United Kingdom, and Switzerland of continuing “to block the lifting of intellectual property rules, which would enable the distribution and scale-up of COVID-19 vaccines, test and treatment facilities in the global south.”
It added: “The transfer of largely publicly funded vaccine technology and know-how from pharmaceutical corporations would fast track production to a matter of months. Yet still today, a handful of these corporations retain the power to dictate vaccine supply, distribution and price – and the power to decide who lives and who dies.”
The letter stated that world leaders and particularly rich nations have “the responsibility to change this situation and ensure the publicly funded vaccine technology and know-how is available to the global south,” saying, “the current approach is immoral, entirely self-defeating and also an ethical, economic and epidemiological failure.”
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It also pointed out that the virus was constantly mutating and vaccines might not work against future variants, adding that failing to vaccinate the world was estimated to have cost the global economy around $9 trillion.
The letter concluded: “We stand ready to support world leaders in their joint response to achieve vaccine equity and are confident the lessons learned from previous crises will serve to guide us and avoid repeating old mistakes.
“Every life lost now to vaccine apartheid is avoidable. Only a People’s Vaccine – based on the principles of equity and solidarity – can protect all of humanity and create a fairer, safer, more prosperous world.”
Read the full open letter, that was also signed by Charlize Theron, here.