Meghan Markle and Prince Harry Sign Open Letter Calling Out Vaccine Inequity on COVID-19 Pandemic Anniversary

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex 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.”

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Photo: ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty

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

The couple joined more than 130 world leaders, scientists, faith leaders, humanitarians and more in signing The People's Vaccine open letter advocating for an end to "vaccine monopolies" two years after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic.

"Two years since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a global pandemic – and faced with disturbingly unequal access to COVID-19 vaccines – we urge world leaders to do what is necessary to end this crisis and unite behind a People's Vaccine," the letter begins.

The letter calls out the United Kingdom along with the European Union and Switzerland for "block[ing] the lifting of intellectual property rules which would enable the redistribution and scale-up of COVID-19 vaccines, test and treatment manufacturing in the global south."

"The current approach is immoral, entirely self-defeating and also an ethical, economic and epidemiological failure," the letter stated.

It said, "Now we are reuniting, in greater numbers, and with utmost urgency repeating our call for a People's Vaccine. We appeal to world leaders to end this strategy of counter-productive nationalism and of protecting pharmaceutical monopolies and to finally act with international solidarity. Now is the time to renew the commitments made at the founding of the World HealthOrganization, where all states agreed to deliver 'the highest attainable standard of health as a fundamental right of every human being.' "

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have also invested in The People's Vaccine Alliance via their Archewell Foundation. The coalition, which is made up of over 80 organizations, said they were "proud to welcome Archewell Foundation to the Alliance and appreciate their support."

Meghan, 40, and Prince Harry, 37, have spoken out multiple times over the past two years about the need for global access to the COVID-19 vaccine, including an appearance at Global Citizen Live in New York City's Central Park in September.

"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 on stage. "And while in this country and many others, you can go almost anywhere and get vaccinated, billions of people around the world cannot. 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."

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle
Prince Harry and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex. ANGELA WEISS/AFP via Getty

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"Just think about the millions of vaccines that have been discarded this year. That's like throwing away life vests when those around you are drowning," Meghan said.

"So, global citizens, we ask you tonight, do you think we should start treating access to the vaccine as basic human right?" Harry concluded. "When we start making decisions through that lens, where every single person deserves equal access to the vaccine, then we can achieve what is needed together, for all of us."

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