The Duke & Duchess of Sussex coauthored a WHO open letter on vaccines

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle speak at the 2021 Global Citizen Live Festival

The G20 Summit was/is being held this weekend in Rome, Italy. Prince Charles is in attendance, so is Pope Francis, President Joe Biden and Prime Minister Boris Johnson, among many other world leaders. Many of those same world leaders will hope on private planes and go straight to Glasgow for the COP26 climate conference. Which is another story altogether. Clearly, there’s an international focus on environmental issues right now, as there should be and that’s very important. But it’s also important to get people vaccinated all around the world. World leaders should be able to do two things at once (they should actually be able to do dozens of things all at once). Which is why the Duke and Duchess of Sussex coauthored an open letter with Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus for the World Health Organization. The open letter – which you can read here – is about the wealthiest, most vaccine-heavy nations failing to provide adequate vaccine supplies to developing nations. They timed this for the G20. An excerpt from the letter:

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. 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?

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?

Promises aren’t translating into vaccines reaching the people that need them. Among countries represented at the G20, there are a handful with millions of surplus vaccines that are destined to be wasted once they expire. Every discarded dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, when there are the mechanisms to donate them, should outrage us all. Each dose represents a real person—a mother, father, daughter, or son—who could have been protected.

[From WHO]

Meghan, Harry and Dr. Ghebreyesus offered a series of solutions to immediately get the vaccines to hundreds of millions of people in dire need. First, close the dose gap by speeding up existing commitments to donate millions of vaccines and making new pledges to donate. They also want to eliminate all export restrictions on vaccines, which sounds great but if it happens, that’s a loophole which will be massively exploited. They also suggest holding “pharmaceutical companies to higher transparency standards, including publicly shared monthly production projections and delivery schedules to help countries better plan to receive and share doses.” Which is smart, but companies like Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna consider that trade information.

And once again, the Sussexes are beating the drum for the waiver of all intellectual property constraints from Big Pharma’s vaccines, so that individual nations (with the capabilities, like India) can make generic versions of the vaccines. Which is another one of those “good in theory” proposals which I don’t think will happen. But the Sussexes are consistent in that recommendation – they’ve suggested it before.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle at the UN

Photos courtesy of Avalon Red, Backgrid.

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12 Responses to “The Duke & Duchess of Sussex coauthored a WHO open letter on vaccines”

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  1. KSK Pamuk says:

    I work trying to get access to essential drugs for kids in developing countries with rare disease. Companies in the US produce and market drugs for hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for one patient. These life saving drugs are completely out of reach for patients in developing countries. If big pharma would allow for the life saving drugs to be produced generically for the developing world, so many children could be saved. I hope they win this battle over the vaccine and that that win translates to other life saving medication in the developing world. Go Sussexes!!

    • Auntie says:

      100% agree.

      We won a battle with AIDS drugs. We can do it again.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      I think that IP should be banned in instances of life saving treatments and possible other industries that place the benefits to mankind as the top priority. There is no reason why the coronavirus vaccine should NOT be shared when more than 7 million people have died worldwide. In addition, the US Government gave multiple drug makers millions of dollars to amp up producing a safe and efficient vaccine. The American taxpayers paid for these vaccines that were developed and we have a right to dictate them limiting restrictions to other countries. It’s for the greater good, no country, or person, should have to continue living in fear from this deadly disease. The drug companies and the greater world leaders must put the vaccines in everyone’s arm as soon as possible. There are children around the globe that are becoming orphans due to the coronavirus. This has to stop. No child should have to suffer due to the greed and lack of action from everyone.

  2. Janice Hill says:

    I love how the English royal family and the press can’t say enough bad things about the Sussexes, but the Sussexes just do their thing. They let their work speak for itself, and it puts the English haters to shame. Team Sussex!

    • Commonwealthy sounded witty at first says:

      And “their thing” is so weighty! Like, a different planet from the pettiness of UK tabloid concerns, W&K’s busy work, and the incompetent courtiers. It’s so far above the smoke and mirrors of royal reporting and embiggening. And they do it beautifully: do their homework, communicate behind the scenes, deliver complete initiatives, and repeat.

  3. ElleV says:

    An advocate’s job is to raise awareness about a problem and build pressure for action by policymakers which is why I don’t expect H&M to be putting forward detailed, turnkey policy proposals because that won’t capture public attention in the same way

    High-level, good-in-theory proposals that the average person can understand are useful for building collective momentum to spur policymakers to buckle down and develop good-in-practice alternatives

  4. aquarius64 says:

    Another great project for the Sussexes. Stay mad salty ones.

    • BothSidesNow says:

      It’s amazing how much Meghan and Harry are using their platform for the good of everyone! I think that they have put out such a tremendous amount of proposals, creating a drive for the better of all and carrying through with their dedication. We have just seen a small amount of what the future will be for Meghan and Harry and it’s going to knock everyone’s socks off!!

  5. Over it says:

    You know I stands these two. Bless them both.