Prince Harry has called on pharmaceutical companies to waive their intellectual property rights on Covid vaccines as he said the pandemic was becoming a “human rights crisis”.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex took to the stage in New York on Saturday as part of Global Citizen Live, a 24-hour event calling on leaders to to adopt a vaccine equity policy.
Performers including Ed Sheeran, Coldplay and Lizzo were also part of the occasion which included events in Lagos, London, Los Angeles, New York City, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Seoul and Sydney.
Harry said during his speech: “We’re battling more than the virus alone, this is a battle of misinformation, bureaucracy, lack of transparency and lack of access and, above all, this is a human rights crisis.”
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle said they had spoken to experts about the pandemic and the issues in worldwide vaccine equity.
The Duke said: “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 are waiting for is the vaccine intellectual property to be waived and the vaccine technology to be transferred over.
“By the way, many of these vaccines were publicly funded. They are your vaccines, you paid for them.”
Before their appearance, the royal couple spoke to Deputy Secretary-General of the UN Amina Mohammed about vaccines and other fields they “care about deeply” including climate action and mental health.
Ms Mohammed, the former environment minister for Nigeria, shared the picture in a tweet, saying: “In conversation with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
“Sharing how to engage on issues we care about deeply: climate action, women’s economic empowerment, mental well-being, youth engagement and vaccine equity.”
Harry and Meghan’s visit is their first public appearance together since the birth of their daughter Lilibet in June, and their first major public trip since stepping down from their roles as senior members of the Royal Family.
Meghan told the crowd that “every single person on this planet has a fundamental right to get this vaccine”, but lamented that this was not happening.
She said: “While in this country and many others you can go almost anywhere and get vaccinated, billions around the world cannot.
“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 OK.
“These experts shared that how the vaccine is distributed, and who it’s distributed to, should be left to independent international organisations who know exactly where the doses are most needed.
“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.”