Meghan and Harry call on world leaders to ‘vaccinate the world’, ahead of Cop26

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex penned an open letter along with WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

Laura Hampson
Friday 29 October 2021 17:19
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The Duke and Duchess have asked world leaders to take action in ending the pandemic during this “window of opportunity” ahead of the beginning of the Cop26 summit this weekend.

In an open letter published on 29 October, written alongside World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Prince Harry and Meghan Markle said: “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.

“By delivering already-pledged doses, helping countries manufacture their own vaccines, and prioritising vaccines for nations in need, the G20 can help ensure the world delivers on these promises.”

The United Nations Climate Change Conference, or Cop26, begins in Glasgow this Sunday 31 October. The two-week summit will see world leaders gather to discuss the climate crisis among other global issues.

Harry and Meghan are calling on these world leaders to put an end to the pandemic as “we can’t simply hope for the pandemic to end on its own”.

“As the virus progresses through unvaccinated populations, we risk new and more deadly strains sweeping the planet. Further, with trillions of dollars already lost and trillions more expected to be lost, economies will never fully recover until the whole world can operate as normal,” the letter continues.

“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 begins by calling out world leaders who attended the G7 Summit in June and pledged 1 billion doses of Covid-19 vaccines to be sent to poorer countries to help “vaccinate the world”.

“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?,” the letter questions.

“Of the almost 7 billion doses that have been administered globally, just three per cent of people in low-income countries have had a jab so far. Where are the rest?”

They add that “promises aren’t translating into vaccines reaching the people that need them”.

The letter calls on world leaders to “end this devastating inequality” and “end this pandemic once and for all”.

“We must do everything in our power to get doses to as many people who want and need them, as fast as possible, in the right order, and to have the greatest possible impact,” Harry and Meghan add.

The letter also includes instructions for what must happen in order to achieve vaccine equality.

It recommends immediately closing the 550 million dose gap to help accelerate towards WHO’s 40 per cent coverage target by the end of 2021.

It calls on leaders to “fully fund the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator so it can carry out its vital work of providing vaccines, diagnostics, and treatments to the most vulnerable people on the planet - from older populations and health workers to refugees.”

And Harry and Meghan want pharmaceutical companies to be held to higher transparency standards and for vaccine technology to be shared.

“Cooperation of historic proportion is the only solution,” the letter concludes. “Lives literally depend on it.”

Earlier this week, Buckingham Palace announced that the Queen would “regretfully” not be attending Cop26 as originally planned after an overnight stay in hospital last week.

A palace spokesperson said: “Following advice to rest, the Queen has been undertaking light duties at Windsor Castle.

“Her Majesty has regretfully decided that she will no longer travel to Glasgow to attend the evening reception of Cop26 on Monday, 1 November.

“Her Majesty is disappointed not to attend the reception but will deliver an address to the assembled delegates via a recorded video message.”

However, other members of the royal family will be in attendance, including the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

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