Prince Harry uses GQ awards show spot to make vaccine plea

3 months ago 14
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By Becky Morton
BBC News

image sourcePA Media

image captionPrince Harry appeared virtually to present an award to scientists behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

The Duke of Sussex has urged governments to tackle the "huge disparity" in access to Covid vaccines worldwide, as he made a surprise virtual appearance at an awards show.

Prince Harry was speaking at the GQ Men of the Year awards, where he presented a prize to the team behind the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

Until everyone can access the jab "we are all at risk", he said in a speech.

The duke also blamed "mass-scale misinformation" for vaccine hesitancy.

Speaking via video, Prince Harry called on governments to do more to vaccinate people in poorer countries.

While more than a third of the global population has received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine, he said less than 2% of people in the developing world had received a jab and many healthcare workers remain unvaccinated.

"We cannot move forward together unless we address this imbalance as one," he said.

"At the same time, families around the world are being overwhelmed by mass-scale misinformation across news media and social media, where those who peddle in lies and fear are creating vaccine hesitancy, which in turn leads to divided communities and eroding trust.

"This is a system we need to break if we are to overcome Covid-19 and the risk of new variants."

image sourceOxford University/John Cairns

image captionProf Dame Sarah Gilbert helped design the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine

Prof Dame Sarah Gilbert and Prof Catherine Green received the magazine's "heroes of the year" award for their work on the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

Praising the scientists, Prince Harry said: "They are our nation's pride and we are deeply indebted to their service."

"For the rest of us, including global governments, pharmaceutical leaders and heads of business, we have to keep doing our part," he added.

"That must include sharing vaccine science and supporting and empowering developing countries with more flexibility. Where you are born should not affect your ability to survive when the drugs and know-how exist to keep you alive and well."

Vaccinologist Dame Sarah - who was recognised with her damehood in the Queen's Birthday Honours this year - began designing a Covid vaccine in early 2020.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca jab is now the most widely used around the world, with doses sent to more than 170 countries.

Speaking after the pair received their award, Prof Green said the duke had given "a really important message".

"We didn't know that was going to happen, so suddenly Prince Harry's on stage [virtually]," she said.

"And he said all of the things we wanted to say about the necessity to get vaccines to the world for people irrespective of their ability to pay."

image sourceReuters

image captionDame Sarah received a standing ovation at Wimbledon this summer for her work on the Covid vaccine

Prince Harry has previously called for fairer distribution of vaccines at a charity concert, Vax Live, in May.

He and his wife Meghan were campaign chairs of the event, which raised millions of pounds for Covax, a scheme working to ensure Covid vaccines are available around the world.

The couple now live in the US, after stepping back from royal duties last year.

image sourceGetty Images

image captionTV presenter Piers Morgan also attended the awards, after he was cleared of breaching Ofcom's broadcasting code over his comments about the Duchess of Sussex
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