Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Call Out Vaccine Equity Divide: 'Where Are the Doses?'

The couple teamed up with WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to write an open letter to G20 Summit leaders

The Duke And Duchess Of Sussex Visit One World Observatory Meghan Markle prince harry
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Photo: Taylor Hill/WireImage

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are continuing their push for global access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

The couple teamed up with WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus to write an open letter calling for leaders at the G20 Summit, convening in Rome this weekend, to expand vaccine access in low-income nations.

"When the leaders of the world's wealthiest nations met at the G7 Summit in June, they collectively announced that 1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines would be sent to low- and low-and-middle-income countries to help vaccinate the world. Pharmaceutical companies have pledged almost the same," the open letter published on WHO's website stated. "Yet, as several nations still don't even have enough vaccines for their own health workers, the world is left asking: Where are the doses?"

"Of the almost 7 billion doses that have been administered globally, just 3 percent of people in low-income countries have had a jab so far. Where are the rest?" they continued. "COVAX, the initiative designed to help achieve fair global access to COVID vaccines, has been promised 1.3 billion doses to be donated for the low-income countries it supports, yet it has been able to ship only 150 million — 11.5 percent — to date. Where are the rest?"

Global Citizen Live, New York - Prince Harry and Meghan Markle
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty

Meghan, 40, and Prince Harry, 37, added that every discarded dose of the vaccine "should outrage us all."

"Each dose represents a real person — a mother, father, daughter, or son — who could have been protected," they said. "Each of us come from very different places, backgrounds, and life experiences, but we share a common goal: to tackle global inequity."

They concluded the letter: "Cooperation of historic proportion is the only solution. Lives literally depend on it."

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry The Duke And Duchess Of Sussex Visit One World Observatory
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Taylor Hill/WireImage

Last month, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex traveled from their California home to New York City, where they appeared onstage at the Global Citizen Festival in Central Park to speak out about the world's need for COVID-19 vaccine equity.

"Every single person on this planet has a fundamental right to get this vaccine. That's the point, but that's not happening," Meghan said.

"And while in this country and many others, you can go almost anywhere and get vaccinated, billions of people around the world cannot," she continued. "This year, the world's expected to produce enough doses to meet the target of vaccinating 70% of people in every single country. But it is wrong that so much of the vaccine supply has only gone to just 10 wealthy nations so far, and not everyone else. It's just not okay."

"Guys, we have what we need to vaccinate the world, but the experts told us, here's what's getting in the way," Harry added. "They said many countries are ready to produce vaccines at home, yet they aren't allowed to, because ultra-wealthy pharmaceutical companies are not sharing the recipes to make them. These countries have the means, the ability and the workers to start manufacturing. All they're waiting for is the vaccine intellectual property to be waived and for the vaccine technology to be transferred over. And by the way, many of these vaccines were publicly funded. They are your vaccines, you paid for them."

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex (L) and Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex attend Global Citizen Live, New York on September 25, 2021 in New York City.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. Kevin Mazur/Getty

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They also tied their mission for vaccine access to their son Archie's second birthday in May. In addition to sharing a new photo of the toddler on his special day, Meghan and Prince Harry invited followers to donate and help bring vaccines to vulnerable families around the world.

"We cannot think of a more resonant way to honor our son's birthday," they said. "If we all show up, with compassion for those we both know and don't know, we can have a profound impact. Even a small contribution can have a ripple effect. Together, we can uplift, protect, and care for one another."

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