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Prince Harry compares Covid pandemic to HIV in People’s Vaccine video


Prince Harry today compared the Covid-19 crisis to HIV, claiming in a YouTube video that ‘corporate greed and political failure have prolonged both pandemics’.

The Duke of Sussex told viewers today that there were ‘striking parallels between Covid-19 and another deadly pandemic, one that emerged 40 years ago – HIV’.

The 37-year-old made the comments in a video which featured footage of his late mother Princess Diana who was known for raising awareness surrounding HIV/Aids.

The clip also featured Harry and his wife Meghan Markle during the Global Citizen Live event in New York in September which called for a vaccine equity policy. 

Today’s video came out on World Aids Day as part of the People’s Vaccine Alliance coalition of groups and activists which is campaigning for a ‘people’s vaccine’. 

The alliance is backed by organisations including UNAids – the joint United Nations programme on HIV/Aids – as well as Oxfam and Amnesty International. 

Harry also wrote a letter to World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and UNAids executive director Winnie Byanyima, saying how ‘deeply grateful’ Diana would have been for their achievements. 

Prince Harry at the Global Citizen Live event at Central Park in New York City on September 25

The video featured clips of Harry's late mother Diana, Princess of Wales meeting Aids patients

The video featured clips of Harry’s late mother Diana, Princess of Wales meeting Aids patients

The video also featured this slide comparing the number of deaths due to HIV/Aids and Covid

The video also featured this slide comparing the number of deaths due to HIV/Aids and Covid

Harry also wrote a letter to WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and UNAids chief Winnie Byanyima, saying how 'deeply grateful' Diana would have been for their work

Harry also wrote a letter to WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and UNAids chief Winnie Byanyima, saying how ‘deeply grateful’ Diana would have been for their work

Prince Harry said in today’s clip: ‘There are striking parallels between Covid-19 and another deadly pandemic, one that emerged 40 years ago – HIV.’

He then added: ‘This is a story about how corporate greed and political failure have prolonged both pandemics, and what we can do to stop it.’

In full: Prince Harry’s letter calling for vaccine equity on World Aids Day 

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Ms Winnie Byanyima,

On this World AIDS Day we recognise the 40 years that have shaped life for many. We honour those whose lives have been cut short and reaffirm our commitment to a scientific community that has worked tirelessly against this disease. My mother would be deeply grateful for everything you stand for and have accomplished. We all share that gratitude, so thank you.

It is striking to now see the world’s leading AIDS activists are also leading the call for COVID-19 vaccine equity. Vaccinating the world is a test of our moral character and we are experiencing a spectacular failure when it comes to global vaccine equity. Similar to the AIDS crisis, we’ve yet again revealed over the past year, that the value of life depends on whether you were born and/or live in a rich nation, or a developing country.

We’ve known for some time (thanks to medical experts) that if we are unable to meet agreed targets to vaccinate 40% of of every country’s population by the end of the year, and 70% by next September, potentially more dangerous COVID-19 variants are likely to arise. Yet, here we are.

While it’s too early to know the full extent of the risk that the Omicron variant poses, which we only know about thanks to the experts in Southern Africa identifying it, there is no doubt that its emergence is of deep concern. Now more than ever, the voiceless majority of the world needs to be heard, and the onus is on our leaders to end this pandemic. Anything less is self-defeating.

That means breaking pharma monopolies that prevent vaccines from getting to communities around the world in need; that means Governments honoring their promises and delivering the doses that they committed; that means pursuing international pandemic agreements with strict timelines and holding each other accountable to them; that means treating all human lives as equal lives.

It’s time to draw from the lessons we learned throughout the HIV/AIDS pandemic, where millions died unnecessarily due to deep inequities in access to treatment. Are we really comfortable repeating the failures of the past? Everything I’ve learnt, from the youth of Sentebale, tells me not. They see how repeating these mistakes is destructive and self-defeating, it is a betrayal of the next generation. Let’s spend today celebrating and building on the work of champions who turned what was once a death sentence into a manageable condition. Let’s spend tomorrow continuing our efforts to save lives and make a difference.

Prince Harry, The Duke of Sussex

Founding Patron, Sentebale

The Duke said: ‘In the early 2000s, a wave of activism helped break drug company monopolies, giving millions of people access to generic medicines at a fraction of the price.’

And he continued: ‘By ending vaccine monopolies and sharing technology, companies in the developing world can start producing Covid vaccines too.’

The video concluded with Harry and Ms Byanyima saying: ‘Break the monopolies, share the know-how, deliver a people’s vaccine.’

However there are limitations to the argument that there is a lack of vaccines in poorer countries.

For example, officials in South Africa – where Omicron was first found – say their vaccine supply is sufficient to last the next five months. 

The main issue in the country is that there are high levels of anti-vaxxers with many people simply refusing to get jabbed.

Harry also wrote a letter to World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and Ms Byanyima, saying how ‘deeply grateful’ Diana would have been for their achievements.

The letter was read out by the WHO’s director of global HIV, hepatitis and STIs programmes Dr Meg Doherty at the WHO and UNAids event.

Harry wrote: ‘On this World Aids Day we recognise the 40 years that have shaped life for many. 

‘We honour those whose lives have been cut short and reaffirm our commitment to a scientific community that has worked tirelessly against this disease.

‘My mother would be deeply grateful for everything you stand for and have accomplished. We all share that gratitude, so thank you.’

He said there had been a ‘spectacular failure’ over coronavirus vaccine equity.

‘Vaccinating the world is a test of our moral character and we are experiencing a spectacular failure when it comes to global vaccine equity,’ Harry wrote.

‘Similar to the Aids crisis, we’ve yet again revealed over the past year that the value of life depends on whether you were born and/or live in a rich nation, or a developing country.’

Harry described the emergence of the Omicron variant as of ‘deep concern’.

‘Now more than ever, the voiceless majority of the world needs to be heard and the onus is on our leaders to end this pandemic,’ he wrote.

The Duke warned that repeating the failures surrounding the Aids pandemic would be a ‘betrayal of the next generation’.

He said: ‘It’s time to draw from the lessons we learned throughout the HIV/Aids pandemic, where millions died unnecessarily due to deep inequities in access to treatment.

‘Are we really comfortable repeating the failures of the past? Everything I’ve learnt, from the youth of Sentebale, tells me not.

‘They see how repeating these mistakes is destructive and self-defeating, it is a betrayal of the next generation.

‘Let’s spend today celebrating and building on the work of champions who turned what was once a death sentence into a manageable condition.

Another clip from the video which was released as part of the People's Vaccine Alliance

Another clip from the video which was released as part of the People’s Vaccine Alliance

The video told viewers: 'Break the monopolies, share the know-how, deliver a people's vaccine'

The video told viewers: ‘Break the monopolies, share the know-how, deliver a people’s vaccine’

Another grab from the video which was released by the alliance on what is World Aids Day

Another grab from the video which was released by the alliance on what is World Aids Day

The People's Vaccine Alliance video included the following images of people being tested

The People’s Vaccine Alliance video included the following images of people being tested

The video was narrated by Prince Harry and UNAids executive director Winnie Byanyima

The video was narrated by Prince Harry and UNAids executive director Winnie Byanyima

‘Let’s spend tomorrow continuing our efforts to save lives and make a difference.’

In today’s video, Harry was filmed speaking in New York in September, saying: ‘Many of these vaccines were publicly funded, they are your vaccines – you paid for them.’

The Duke had been at Global Citizen Live, an event which urged leaders to adopt a vaccine equity policy, at which he labelled pandemic a ‘human rights crisis’. 

Harry also said at the event, where he was joined by Meghan, that pharmaceutical companies should waive their intellectual property rights on Covid vaccines. 

The late Princess Diana was known for raising awareness surrounding HIV/Aids. She is pictured here meeting HIV/Aids sufferers at the Turning Point project in London in 1992

The late Princess Diana was known for raising awareness surrounding HIV/Aids. She is pictured here meeting HIV/Aids sufferers at the Turning Point project in London in 1992

Princess Diana shakes hands with HIV/Aids sufferer William Drake at a London centre in 1992

Princess Diana shakes hands with HIV/Aids sufferer William Drake at a London centre in 1992

In a speech earlier that month, he blamed overwhelming ‘mass-scale misinformation’ for Covid vaccine hesitancy and urged governments to address vaccine inequality.

Harry, who was praising the team behind the Oxford/AstraZeneca jab at the GQ Awards, spoke of a ‘huge disparity between who can and cannot access the vaccine’.

The Duke also said at the time that less than 2 per cent of people in the developing world had received a jab with many healthcare workers remaining unvaccinated. 

And at Global Citizen VAX Live in May, he said: ‘This pandemic will not end unless we act collectively with an unprecedented commitment to our shared humanity.’  

Harry and UNAIDS executive director Winnie Byanyima shared the narration for today's video

Harry and UNAIDS executive director Winnie Byanyima shared the narration for today’s video

At the GQ Awards in September, Harry blamed overwhelming 'mass-scale misinformation' for Covid vaccine hesitancy and urged governments to address vaccine inequality

At the GQ Awards in September, Harry blamed overwhelming ‘mass-scale misinformation’ for Covid vaccine hesitancy and urged governments to address vaccine inequality

In response to today’s video, Christine Stegling, executive director at the Frontline Aids charity, told MailOnline: ‘This is not the first time the governments of rich countries have moved on from a problem as soon as it appears to be in someone else’s back yard.

‘We saw it with Aids, where the transformative impact of HIV treatments in rich countries has seen urgency, focus and funding for the global response fall sharply, and we are starting to see the same thing with Covid-19. We cannot allow history to repeat itself.

‘The Covid-19 pandemic is far from over, but high-income, high-vaccination countries are already starting to talk about future pandemics, while turning a blind eye to those that continue to impact poorer regions.

‘This will only prolong the pain of existing pandemics, placing millions of lives at risk. We urgently need a People’s Vaccine to benefit everyone, everywhere.’



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