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Updated March 13th, 2022 at 08:05 IST

COVID-19: Prince Harry, Meghan Markle sign open letter calling out vaccine inequity

Prince Harry, Meghan Markle and former UK PM Gordon Brown are among 130 signatories to a letter lambasting wealthy countries’ approach to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bhavya Sukheja
COVID-19
IMAGE: AP | Image:self
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Prince Harry, Meghan Markle, Hollywood actor Charlize Theron and former UK PM Gordon Brown are among 130 signatories to a letter lambasting wealthy countries’ approach to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the strongly-worded open letter published on Friday, the signatories labelled west’s COVID vaccine policies “immortal, entirely self-defeating and also an ethical, economic and epidemiological failure”. They warned that the pandemic is not over and stated that the failure to vaccinate the world was done to “self-defeating nationalism, pharmaceutical monopolies and inequality”. 

“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 read. 

According to the signatories of the letter, an estimated 20 million deaths from COVID in the past two years had been “avoidable”. While the leaders in wealthy countries had become “complacent”, billions of people globally remained vulnerable to the virus and are facing severe illness and death, the letter read. It also urged world leaders to fund the next stages of vaccines treatment and testing and provide protective equipment needed by healthcare workers around the globe. They even warned that current vaccines may not work against future variants. 

'Pandemic is far from over...'

It is to mention that the letter, coordinated by the People’s Vaccine Alliance, comes on the second anniversary of the declaration by the WHO that the COVID-19 outbreak had become a pandemic. Political and business leaders of around 40 countries, including the former president of Malawi Joyce Banda, the former UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, Paul Polman, former head of Unilever, and easyJet’s Johan Lundgren are among other signatories. 

In the letter, Joyce Banda stated, “Let us be clear: this pandemic is far from over in Africa and across the world. We are seeing, with each day, thousands of avoidable deaths.”

Further, it said that a few pharmaceutical corporations retain the power to dictate vaccine supply distribution and price, and “have the power to decide who lives and dies”. It added that it was up to the world leaders, and particularly rich countries, to change this situation. Meanwhile, it is to mention that the letter comes after Amnesty International claimed last year that six pharmaceutical companies that had developed COVID vaccines were fuelling a global human rights crisis, citing their refusal to sufficiently waive intellectual property rights, share vaccine technology and boost global vaccine supply. 

(Image: AP)

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Published March 13th, 2022 at 08:05 IST

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