Harry and Meghan add voices to fierce criticism of West’s Covid vaccine policies | Global Health

Prince Harry and Meghan, actor Charlize Theron and former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown are among 130 signatories to a letter castigating the rich countries’ approach to the Covid-19 pandemic, calling it ” immoral, entirely self-destructive and also ethical, economic and epidemiological failure”.

In a strongly worded open letter published on Friday, the signatories warned that “the pandemic is not over” and said the world’s failure to vaccinate was due to “self-defeating nationalism, pharmaceutical monopolies and inequality”.

According to the letter, around 20 million deaths from Covid-19 over the past two years had been “preventable”, and while leaders in rich countries had become “complacent”, billions of people around the world remained vulnerable to the virus. virus and faced serious illness and death.

The letter, coordinated by the People’s Vaccine Alliance, comes on the second anniversary of the declaration by the World Health Organization (WHO) that the coronavirus outbreak had become a pandemic.

Former and current leaders of 40 countries, including former Malawian President Joyce Banda, Tanzanian President Samia Suluhu Hassan and former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, are among the other signatories, who also include business leaders such as Paul Polman, former head of Unilever, and Johan Lundgren of easyJet as well as prominent economists, scientists, humanitarians and religious leaders.

Banda said, “Let’s be clear: this pandemic is far from over in Africa and around the world. We are witnessing thousands of preventable deaths every day.

The letter urges world leaders to fund the next steps in vaccines, treatments and testing, and to provide necessary protective equipment to healthcare workers around the world. Current vaccines may not work against future variants, the signatories warned.

The UK, EU and Switzerland have been singled out for continuing to block a waiver of the lifting of intellectual property rules that would allow the redistribution and scaling up of the Covid response.

India and South Africa first proposed the temporary waiver from WTO intellectual property rules in October 2020. It is backed by more than 100 countries, including the United States and India. Australia.

A few pharmaceutical companies retain the power to dictate the distribution and price of vaccines, the letter adds, and “have the power to decide who lives and dies.” It was up to world leaders, and especially rich countries, to change that, he said.

The letter comes after Amnesty International claimed last year that six pharmaceutical companies that had developed Covid-19 vaccines were fueling a global human rights crisis, citing their refusal to give up enough intellectual property rights, share vaccine technology and boost global vaccine supply.

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