In an open letter, Meghan Markle and Prince Harry are calling on world leaders at the of major economies in Italy to address the lack of access to COVID-19 vaccines in low-income countries.
The G-20 meeting, an annual gathering featuring heads of state, is taking place in Rome this year with the goal of improving coordination on global issues. The open letter, which also features World Health Organization Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus as a co-author, appears on the agency's website.
"Today, we join with others to urge global leaders to end this devastating inequity and end this pandemic once and for all," the letter reads. "G20 leaders have the power to accelerate long-promised donations and to commit to breaking the hold that manufacturing countries and pharmaceutical companies currently have over access to the vaccines and how they're made."
Although 49.3% of the world's population has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and 7 billion doses have been administered, only 3.5% of people in low-income countries have received at least one dose, according to Our World in Data.
COVAX, a global initiative created to provide equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, was promised 1.3 billion doses for low-income countries, according to the letter, however it has only "been able to ship 150 million" doses.
In the letter, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex urged the G-20 leaders to speed up existing commitments of dose donations, hold pharmaceutical companies to higher transparency standards and eliminate export restrictions on vaccines.
"We understand that the pandemic recovery is nuanced and deeply complex, but we have a window of opportunity to come together as a global community and meet our humanitarian promises," the couple wrote.
The letter has been supported by several international organizations, including Global Citizen and the Vaccine Alliance.
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