‘End this pandemic once and for all’: Harry and Meghan demand G20 leaders end Covid while accusing powerful nations of not sharing vaccines with low-income countries in open letter
The couple has penned an open letter, co-signed by WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, demanding leaders of the ‘wealthiest’ nations at the G20 summit end the Covid crisis by working to vaccinate the world’s population.
The document comes just one day before the G20 leaders’ summit is due to get underway in Rome. It is the first face-to-face G20 summit since Covid struck.
Last month, Meghan, 40, and Harry, 37, announced they had partnered with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to host a ‘dialogue on the urgent need to achieve global vaccine equity’.
The open document, published on WHO’s website, called for G20 leaders to end the Covid-19 pandemic ‘once and for all’ and do everything in their power to reach the goal of vaccinating 40 per cent of the world’s population by the end of the year.
Meghan Markle and Prince Harry accused G20 leaders of failing to ensure poorer countries are given access to Covid-19 vaccines in an open letter published on WHO’s website
It read: ‘Today, we join with others to urge global leaders to end this devastating inequity and end this pandemic once and for all.’
The couple spoke about G7 leaders pledging in June to provide one billion vaccine doses over the next year, but asked where the doses are, claiming some nations still do not have doses for their own health workers.
They slammed G20 and G7 leaders by claiming that the promises that have been made are not leading to people around the world getting much-needed vaccines.
The letter added: ‘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.’
The couple said some G20 nations have ‘surplus vaccines that are destined to be wasted once they expire’, arguing that everyone should be outraged by any wasted doses.
The letter continued: ‘Every discarded dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, when there are the mechanisms to donate them, should outrage us all.
The couple slammed G20 and G7 leaders as they claimed that people around the world are not getting much-needed vaccines. Pictured: Student gets a vaccine in Oxford on September 17
‘Each dose represents a real person—a mother, father, daughter, or son—who could have been protected.
‘Each of us come from very different places, backgrounds, and life experiences, but we share a common goal: to tackle global inequity.’
Meghan and Harry went on to demand that everyone must do ‘everything’ in their power to get vaccine doses to as many people across the globe ‘in the right order’.
They added: ‘G20 leaders have the power to accelerate long-promised donations and to commit to breaking the hold that manufacturing countries and pharmaceutical companies currently have over access to the vaccines and how they’re made.’
The letter claimed many obstacles in distributing Covid vaccines are ‘avoidable’, including the ‘inability or unwillingness of vaccine producing countries and pharmaceutical firms to share’ their vaccines.
The document added: ‘We understand that the pandemic recovery is nuanced and deeply complex, but we have a window of opportunity to come together as a global community and meet our humanitarian promises.’
The couple called on G20 leaders to help nations manufacture their own vaccines and prioritise giving doses to those most in need, saying this will help to reach the goal of vaccinating 40 percent of all countries by the end of this year.
They concluded: ‘There are many crises that you – the stewards of our planet – must grapple with this weekend: the climate emergency, the state of our global economy, a recommitment to multilateralism.
‘Yet, in many ways, making headway on these priorities depends on whether we can beat this pandemic.’
The letter has been supported by: Inger Ashing, CEO of Save the Children International, Dr Seth Berkley, CEO, Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance; Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of UNAIDS; Chelsea Clinton, DPhil, MPH, Vice Chair, Clinton Foundation; Hugh Evans, Co-Founder and CEO of Global Citizen; Tom Hart, Acting CEO, The ONE Campaign; Carolyn Reynolds, Co-founder Pandemic Action Network; Anil Soni, CEO, WHO Foundation.
Last month, Meghan and Harry spoke out about how the wealthiest nations are hoarding vaccine doses from poor countries during ‘Wokestock’ event in New York City
Their latest call for vaccine equity comes after Meghan spoke out about how the wealthiest nations are hoarding vaccine doses from poor countries during ‘Wokestock’ in New York City.
Both Meghan and Harry spoke about getting the Covid vaccine to everyone around the world at the event at Central Park last month.
The pair took to the stage for Global Citizen Live, a concert aimed at raising awareness for a variety of issues, including global poverty and climate change. It has been dubbed ‘Wokestock’.
During Meghan and Harry’s joint, coordinated speech, Meghan said: ‘Every single person on this planet has a fundamental right to get this vaccine. That’s the point, but that’s not happening.
‘And while in this country and many others, you can go almost anywhere and get vaccinated, billions of people around the world cannot,’ she said.
‘This year, the world is expected to produce enough doses to meet the target of vaccinating 70 percent of people in every single country, but it is wrong that so much of the vaccine supply has only gone to 10 wealthy nations so far and not everyone else. It’s just not ok.’
The couple also hosted a meeting on vaccine equity with Chelsea Clinton and other health experts at the World Health Organisation (WHO) offices in the United Nations (UN) building in New York last month.
The couple released a statement on Friday on the Instagram account for their non-profit Archewell saying they had partnered with the WHO to host a ‘dialogue on the urgent need to achieve global vaccine equity.’
They were joined by some of the ‘foremost leaders’ on public health, they said, adding that they are ‘eager to do our part’ to end the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Sussexes had been spotted emerging from the WHO offices at 885 Second Avenue in Manhattan, carrying both WHO documents and documents featuring Archewell branding.
Last month, Meghan, 40, and Harry, 37, announced they had partnered with the WHO to host a ‘dialogue on the urgent need to achieve global vaccine equity’
‘In this room, we had a number of the foremost leaders on public health, pandemic preparedness, scientific progress, and community building,’ the couple said in a joint statement.
‘Today’s meeting was a much-appreciated opportunity to learn from some of the most-respected experts who are working tirelessly to end this pandemic.
‘Building on ongoing conversations we’ve had with global leaders over the past 18 months, today further reinforced our commitment to vaccine equity.
‘We’re so encouraged by the spirit of collaboration we heard throughout our conversation and are eager to do our part.’
Meghan and Harry were joined at the meeting by Clinton, the daughter of former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and the vice-chair of the Clinton Foundation.
Other attendees included: WHO assistant director-general Stewart Simonson, Director of Global Affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services Loyce Pace, WHO Foundation CEO Anil Soni, WHO director-general Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, former president of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the UN’s Under-Secretary General Winnie Byanyima.
WHO director-general Ghebreyesus, who joined the meeting remotely, said he was ‘grateful’ to Meghan and Harry for their work on the ‘critical conversation’ on the vaccine.
‘We’re grateful to The Duke of Duchess of Sussex for working with us to bring together this critical conversation,’ he said, reported Vanity Fair.
‘We are at an important crossroads for vaccinating the world.
‘It is only with collaboration, coordination, transparency, and creative thinking that we can make it through this pandemic together.’