Prince Harry looked sharp for his surprise appearance at the British GQ Men Of The Year Awards on Wednesday. The Duke of Sussex, dressed in a black velvet tuxedo, was on hand to present the final award of the night—the GQ’s Heroes Of The Year—to Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, Dr. Catherine Green and the entire Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine team.
“I’m deeply honoured to be introducing our final awardees, who you’ll immediately recognise for their landmark contribution to the fight against COVID-19,” the Duke said (via British GQ) live from his home in California. “Our heroes of this evening are Professor Sarah Gilbert, Doctor Catherine Green, and the entire team of dedicated Oxford scientists. Their breakthrough research on the Oxford Vaccine has brought the world one of our greatest tools for achieving vaccine equity.”
“Until every community can access the vaccine, and until every community is connected to trustworthy information about the vaccine, then we are all at risk. That’s a common refrain my wife and I have heard in convenings with vaccine experts, heads of industry, community advocates, and global leaders,” he added.
The Duke noted that “more than a third of the global population has received at least one dose of the vaccine,” but pointed out that “there is a huge disparity between who can and cannot access the vaccine.” “Less than two percent of people in the developing world have received a single dose at this point, and many of their healthcare workers are still not even vaccinated. We cannot move forward together unless we address this imbalance as one,” Harry said. “At the same time, families around the world are being overwhelmed by mass-scale misinformation across ‘news’ media and social media, where those who peddle in lies and fear are creating vaccine hesitancy, which in turn is dividing communities and eroding trust. This is a system we need to break if we are to overcome COVID-19 and the rise of new variants.”
Queen Elizabeth’s grandson called the Oxford team “heroes of the highest order who gave us an instrument to fight this disease.” “They are our nation’s pride, and we are deeply indebted to their service,” Harry said. “For the rest of us—including global governments, pharmaceutical leaders, and heads of business—we have to keep doing our part. That must include sharing vaccine science and supporting and empowering developing countries with more flexibility. Where you’re born should not affect your ability to survive, when the drugs and know-how exist to keep you alive and well.”
Harry called for equitable vaccine distribution back in May at the VAX LIVE: The Concert to Reunite the World. In a previously released statement, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, campaign chairs of Vax Live, said, “Over the past year, our world has experienced pain, loss, and struggle—together. Now we need to recover and heal—together. We can’t leave anybody behind. We will all benefit, we will all be safer, when everyone everywhere has equal access to the vaccine. We must pursue equitable vaccine distribution, and in that, restore faith in our common humanity. This mission couldn’t be more critical or important.”