Prince Harry and Meghan Markle today urged vaccine manufacturers to ‘temporarily suspend’ intellectual property rights in order to help those in developing countries gain access to jabs – as they marked Archie’s second birthday by asking for $5 donations to aid global distribution.
The Duke, 36, and Duchess of Sussex, 39, shared an emotive letter to the CEOs of Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Norovax on Thursday as they launched a campaign to ‘ensure equitable vaccine access globally’.
The lengthy note, published to Global Citizen, had asked the vaccine bosses to ‘act with extraordinary purpose, responsibility, and leadership’ in response to a ‘equity crisis’ and use ‘every possible measure to increase global supply.’
These proposed measures included ‘the temporary suspension of intellectual property and extraordinary global public-private collaboration resulting in wider transfer of technology and know-how.’
AstraZeneca has already vowed not to profit from the vaccine during the pandemic, but Harry and Meghan today urged the CEOs of Pfizer and Moderna to follow suit and supply at least 100 million doses of their vaccinations at ‘not-for-profit prices’ this year.
They also requested that the two pharma giants accelerate their supply and deliver the jabs to COVAX – the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access, which protects people against the virus ‘regardless of wealth’ – as soon as possible.
Harry and Meghan’s ambitious vaccine mission comes as Joe Biden yesterday threw his support behind efforts to waive intellectual property protections for Covid-19 vaccines in an effort to speed up the end of the pandemic.
The UK is under pressure to follow his lead and call for Covid vaccine patents to be ditched so companies can make cheaper versions to send to very low income countries, which have given just 0.4 per cent of the 1.2 billion vaccines administered globally.
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex also today asked their supporters to donate to GAVI, a vaccine alliance which buys Covid-19 vaccines for the world, in a post on their Archewell Foundation site.
The Sussexes said a $5 donation would be matched by organisations supporting the appeal to become $20 – which would cover the purchase of four vaccines.
‘We cannot think of a more resonant way to honour our son’s birthday,’ they said. ‘If we all show up, with compassion for those we both know and don’t know, we can have a profound impact. Even a small contribution can have a ripple effect.’
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle have urged supporters to make a donation to a vaccine equity campaign to mark their son Archie’s second birthday
Prince Harry, 36, and Meghan Markle’s, 39, son Archie will ‘have a video call date with the Queen and his cousins’ today for his birthday, a royal expert has revealed
In the new image, Archie is seen holding a bunch of balloons in the garden of their California home.
Last year, the couple released a video in which Meghan was reading Archie, the seventh-in-line to the British throne, a story.
In a post shared on their Archewell site, signed ‘Harry and Meghan’, the couple wrote: ‘We have been deeply touched over the past two years to feel the warmth and support for our family in honor of Archie’s birthday.
‘Many of you donate to charities on his behalf, and mark the occasion by giving back or doing an act of service—all through the goodness of your hearts. You raise funds for those who need it most, and continue to do so organically and selflessly. We remain incredibly grateful.’
They continued: ‘This year, our world continues to be on the path to recovery from COVID-19. Yet too many families are still struggling with the impact of this pandemic. While some places are on the verge of healing, in so many parts of the world, communities continue to suffer.
‘As of today, around 80 percent of the nearly one billion COVID-19 vaccine shots that have been given were administered in wealthier countries.
‘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.
‘We will not be able to truly recover until everyone, everywhere, has equal access to the vaccine.
The Sussexes today shared an up to date photograph of their son Archie to mark his second birthday
Visitors to the Archewell website are greeted with the picture along with a message saying: ‘Join us in advocating for vaccine equity on Archie’s birthday’
The Duke, 36, and Duchess of Sussex, 39, posted an emotive letter to the CEOs of Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and Norovax on Thursday as they launched a campaign to ‘ensure equitable vaccine access globally’
Harry and Meghan’s open letter to pharma bosses
To Albert Bourla, CEO Pfizer; Stéphane Bancel, CEO Moderna; Pascal Soriot, CEO AstraZeneca; Alex Gorsky, CEO Johnson & Johnson; Stanley Erck, CEO Novavax:
The world owes you gratitude for leading the successful development and manufacturing of safe and effective vaccines against COVID-19. This was achieved in record time, amidst a once-in-a-century global pandemic. It’s truly a testament to what can be achieved when partners work together towards a shared goal.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated health, social, and economic inequality globally. The global vaccine rollout thus far further deepens these disparities, with the poorest and most marginalized populations most adversely impacted. As of May 1, over 80% of the 1.2 billion vaccine doses administered globally have occurred in high-and upper-middle-income countries while the very lowest-income countries have administered just 0.4%.
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. 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.
Therefore we, the undersigned, stand with Global Citizens who want to see COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers act with extraordinary purpose, responsibility, and leadership in response to this equity crisis, including through the following actions:
Moderna — We are pleased to see Moderna finally join the global vaccine initiative, COVAX, but the world’s poorest countries cannot wait until the end of the year to access your life-saving vaccine. We therefore call on you to move up your delivery schedule with COVAX and increase the promised 2021 volume to at least 100 million doses.
Pfizer — To date, Pfizer/BioNTech have only promised 40 million doses to COVAX, the fewest among vaccine producers. We call on you to commit at least 100 million additional doses to COVAX at a not-for-profit price and to deliver them as soon as possible this year.
All — Every possible measure to increase global supply must be on the table, including the temporary suspension of intellectual property and extraordinary global public-private collaboration resulting in wider transfer of technology and know-how. We call on each of you to end your opposition to these measures and work collaboratively with the global community to achieve universal access.
If we work together in the global public interest, we will save lives at risk and we will defeat this deadly pandemic.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
‘And with that intention, 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.
‘For a donation of just $5, you can cover the cost of a dose for someone in need. And because we were able to secure matching support from a number of organizations, that $5 you give will automatically turn into $20—covering the cost of four doses.
‘Every single dollar counts—not only will it help save lives but it will help save families and communities.’
DO MODERNA, ASTRAZENECA AND PFIZER PROFIT FROM THEIR VACCINATIONS?
There have so-far been 1.2billion vaccinations administered across the globe, with Moderna, AstraZeneca and Pfizer leading the roll-out.
All three jabs were produced relatively quickly, but not without rigorous testing on their safety and efficacy.
The Moderna vaccine was developed with an almost billion dollar investment from the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.
It was approved for use in the UK in January.
It is understood Moderna bosses profited from stock sales that coincided with announcements of its results, with the firm handed a $1.5billion deal with the US government for an initial 100 million doses.
Moderna has said it expects sales of $18.4billion in 2021.
The AstraZeneca vaccine, created in collaboration with the University of Oxford, was handed more than £65.5 million of funding from the UK government.
The development of the vaccine was also aided by $1 billion of investment from the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority.
AstraZeneca has vowed not to profit from the vaccine during the Covid-19 pandemic, and charges $4.30 to $10 for two doses.
It expects sales of $1.9billion in 2021.
The jab was approved following thorough testing, with Phase 3 of its clinical trial involving 30,000 volunteers and a pediatric trial.
The Pfizer–BioNTech vaccine was the first to be approved in the UK following safety and efficacy tests.
BioNTech, based in Mainz, received €375m (£335m) in funding from the German government and a €100m loan from the European Investment Bank.
It is expected that Pfizer, which splits costs and profit margins equally with BioNTech, will net $15billion in sales in 2021 but the final number could be twice as high.
Pfizer says it could potentially deliver some two billion doses this year, according to the Guardian.
They finished the post: ‘Together, we can uplift, protect, and care for one another.’
Their appeal for donations comes days after Prince Harry joined A-list Hollywood celebrities at Vax Live – a concert to raise money for GAVI. The Sussexes have not yet revealed if they have contributed.
Donors are able to click through the Archewell website, which takes them to a page run by Global Citizen, a global anti-poverty campaign which the Duke and Duchess of Sussex regularly partner with.
They can then donate $5, which is matched by the Mastercard Impact Fund, the card giant’s philanthropic arm; the Seadream Family Foundation, a charitable project linked to a company; and one unnamed ‘public charity’, up to a maximum of $1,000,000 each.
The resulting $20 donation will go to GAVI, or the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation, which buys Covid vaccines for developing countries with the support of countries including the UK, which has pledged billions worth of funding.
The Sussexes also today shared an open letter on the Global Citizen website urging several pharma bosses to ensure their vaccines are accessible to the developing world.
Among the requests in the note, Meghan and Harry asked those at Moderna and Pfizer to commit to at least 100 million additional doses at a not-for-profit price and to accelerate their delivery schedule.
Addressing the CEOs of Johnson & Johnson, Novavax and AstraZeneca, they added: ‘We call on each of you to end your opposition to these measures and work collaboratively with the global community to achieve universal access.’
The letter, which can be cosigned by the public, calls for jabs to be administered to the ‘very lowest-income’ countries – which have given just 0.4 per cent of the 1.2 billion vaccines administered so far.
The Sussexes said: ‘If we work together in the global public interest, we will save lives at risk and we will defeat this deadly pandemic.’
Their aim echoes that endorsed by President Biden yesterday, when he announced his support for intellectual property protections to be waived for Covid-19 vaccines in an effort to speed the end of the pandemic.
‘The Administration believes strongly in intellectual property protections, but in service of ending this pandemic, supports the waiver of those protections for COVID-19 vaccines,’ the White House said.
Jab-makers currently own the rights to their vaccine recipes – known as intellectual property rights or IP rights – and other firms can’t copy them without approval.
EU President Ursula von der Leyen also today signalled that the bloc was open to discussions about a rule-change in the hope it could ‘address the crisis in an effective and pragmatic manner’.
The bloc is set to discuss the issue at a summit in Portugal tomorrow, and France’s Emmanuel Macron has already said he supports it for ‘a global public good’.
The move would dent the profits of firms like Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson which stand to make huge amounts of money from their vaccines, which are making billions of dollars in sales. But Moderna, at least, already said last year that it would not enforce its patent and would offer its vaccine recipe to other firms that want it.
Harry and Meghan’s mission marks their latest delve into politics, after the Duke of Sussex was greeted with wild cheers and a standing ovation by a rapturous crowd during a speech at a star-studded concert in Los Angeles on Sunday.
Katie Nicholl said Prince Harry and Prince William, 38, would put their differences to one side and come together for a call with Kate Middleton, 39, and Prince George, seven, Princess Charlotte, six, and Prince Louis, three, for the occasion
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex holding their son Archie during a meeting with Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Mrs Tutu at their legacy foundation in Cape Town
In a separate post on their Archewell Foundation site, Meghan and Harry called for royal fans to support GAVI, a vaccine alliance which buys Covid-19 vaccines for the world. Pictured: The couple after Archie’s birth
The Sussexes said: ‘If we work together in the global public interest, we will save lives at risk and we will defeat this deadly pandemic’
Harry and Meghan release a new photo of their son holding balloons at their $14million Montecito mansion
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex have released a new picture of baby Archie to celebrate his birthday.
The image, released on the Archewell site, shows Harry and Meghan’s son holding balloons at the couple’s $14million Montecito mansion.
Visitors to the website are greeted with the picture along with a message saying: ‘Join us in advocating for vaccine equity on Archie’s birthday.’
Harry and Meghan are appealing to well-wishers wanting to mark their son’s second birthday to donate money to pay for Covid vaccinations in disadvantaged countries.
They issued a joint statement thanking those who have offered ‘warmth and support’ for their family during the past two years in honour of Archie’s birthday, gestures which had left them ‘deeply touched’.
The couple said they were ‘incredibly grateful’ to those well-wishers who had given money to good causes, volunteered or raised donations on behalf of their son.
In the signed statement, posted on their Archewell foundation website, Harry and Megan said: ‘We will not be able to truly recover until everyone, everywhere, has equal access to the vaccine.
‘And with that intention, 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.
‘For a donation of just five dollars (£3.60), you can cover the cost of a dose for someone in need.
‘And because we were able to secure matching support from a number of organisations, that five dollars you give will automatically turn into 20 dollars (£14.40) – covering the cost of four doses.’
Harry told the audience of vaccinated frontline workers ‘every single one of you are awesome’ before urging them to ‘look beyond ourselves’ at the star studded event.
After an announcer read out an introduction, ‘Please welcome Vax Live campaign chair Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex’, the royal walked onto the stage to a rock star-style reception, with his name beamed in giant letters on a flashing screen behind him.
Harry, who appeared in public for the first time since the funeral of his grandfather, Prince Philip, delivered a five-minute address calling for vaccines to be shared with poorer countries, which was regularly punctuated by more rapturous cheers.
Speaking in a markedly different accent than his previous Queen’s English, Harry said: ‘We must look beyond ourselves with empathy and compassion for those we know, and those we don’t. We need to lift up all of humanity and make sure that no person or community is left behind.’
The event – which was being recorded for broadcast on TV on May 8 – was the first speech Harry had given since he and Meghan made a series of damning claims about their family during an appearance on Oprah. T
he Duchess of Sussex is expected to be recording a message to appear in the final broadcast.
The royal was among many high profile stars – including Jennifer Lopez, Selena Gomez, Gayle King and Ben Affleck – to take the stage at Vax Live, which was hosted by campaign organisation Global Citizen at the So-Fi Stadium in Inglewood.
Meghan has also tried her hand at political activism when she weighed in on the US election last November in a break from the royal family’s politically neutral stance.
The mother, who is expecting her second child, also spoke out about the importance of voting, saying: ‘I know what it’s like to have a voice, and also what it’s like to feel voiceless. I also know that so many men and women have put their lives on the line for us to be heard.
‘And that opportunity, that fundamental right, is in our ability to exercise our right to vote and to make all of our voices heard.’
The announcement today after a royal expert said birthday boy Archie will ‘have a video date with the Queen and his cousins’ to celebrate his big day.
Royal expert Katie Nicholl said Prince Harry and Prince William, 38, would put their differences to one side and come together for a Zoom call with Kate Middleton, 39, and Prince George, seven, Princess Charlotte, six, and Prince Louis, three, for the occasion.
Speaking to Okay! magazine, she said Harry, Meghan and Archie would also likely join the Queen for a call, adding: ‘Lockdown is lifting and the sun in California is shining – I’m sure they’ll have a lovely celebration at home…Harry will make a really big fuss of Archie.’
Katie said Prince Harry faces a difficult challenge in trying to help his children bond with their cousins.
She revealed: ‘He always wanted his children to grow up close to William and Kate’s…Sadly it’s looking increasingly unlikely for Archie.’
The appeal comes days after Prince Harry joined A-list Hollywood celebrities at Vax Live – a concert to raise money for GAVI
Harry’s name in lights at the event, which was attended by a series of Hollywood A-listers including Jennifer Lopez
Audience members cheer during Global Citizen Vax LiveThe Concert To Reunite The World at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California
Meanwhile despite difficulties in their relationship over the last 18 months, she said it was ‘hard to imagine’ the Cambridge’s wouldn’t be in touch with the Sussexes on Archie’s birthday.
Earlier today the Queen, Prince Charles and Prince William and Kate Middleton all publicly sent well-wishes to Archie on his second birthday.
The official Royal Family Instagram account led the birthday greetings this morning with a photo of Harry and Meghan introducing their son to the world at Windsor Castle in May 2019.
Prince Charles and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge followed suit with photographs taken at Archie’s Christening in July 2019.
The day will be a particularly poignant as the Royal Family have not seen Archie in 18 months.
The toddler, who is seventh-in-line to the throne, was last in the UK in the autumn of 2019, before the Sussexes left to spend Christmas in Canada.
On Archie’s first birthday, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex released a video of him reading a book with his mother in support of Save The Children but it remains to be seen if fans will be given a fresh glimpse of the toddler today.