COVID-19: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle call for 'global equity' in open letter to vaccine CEOs

"Even a small contribution can have a ripple effect."
"Even a small contribution can have a ripple effect." Photo credit: Getty Images

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have written an open letter to CEOs of the world's leading COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers, calling for vaccine equity.

In a letter addressed to the chief executives of Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex urged the pharmaceutical companies to "temporarily suspend" intellectual property rights to help those in developing countries gain access to the critically-important vaccines.

"The world owes you gratitude for leading the successful development and manufacturing of safe and effective vaccines against COVID-19," the pair wrote.

"This was achieved in record time, amidst a once-in-a-lifetime century global pandemic. It's truly a testament to what can be achieved when partners work together towards a shared goal."

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex noted the number of social and economic disparities exacerbated by the pandemic, and urged manufacturers to consider distributing vaccines to developing countries for a not-for-profit price.

"As we are seeing in countries like India, the urgency to deliver doses now to save lives and stop the spread of COVID-19 is only increasing," the Sussexes continued.

"That's why it is imperative that we ensure equitable vaccine access globally so that people are protected, economies can recover, and this global pandemic can be brought to an end everywhere."

Harry and Meghan marked their son Archie's second birthday on Thursday by asking the public for US$5 donations to aid in global distribution of the jab.

"While we may feel that normalcy is around the corner, we remind ourselves that in much of the world, and especially in developing countries, vaccine distribution has effectively yet to start," the couple wrote on their Archewell website.

"We are inviting you to contribute whatever you can - if you have the means to do so - to bring vaccines to families in the world's most vulnerable places.

"We cannot think of a more resonant way to honor our son's birthday. Even a small contribution can have a ripple effect."