Prince Harry made a surprise appearance at the British GQ Men of the Year Awards on Wednesday night, virtually attending from his California home in a tuxedo to honor the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine team.
During the Duke of Sussex’s cameo, he presented the team with this year’s Heroes of the Year award and spoke about the importance of equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccine. He also called out people who “peddle in lies and fear” to promote vaccine hesitancy.
“I’m deeply honored to be introducing our final awardees, who you’ll immediately recognize for their landmark contribution to the fight against COVID-19,” the prince said, per GQ magazine, before praising professors Sarah Gilbert and Catherine Green and their team of Oxford scientists.
“Their breakthrough research on the Oxford vaccine has brought the world one of our greatest tools for achieving vaccine equity,” Harry continued. “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.”
In addition to urging vaccine equity, a cause both he and Meghan Markle have continued to promote, Harry also addressed the rampant disinformation being spread about the vaccine online.
“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,” Harry said, per GQ. “This is a system we need to break if we are to overcome COVID-19 and the rise of new variants.”
The Duke of Sussex signed off by urging everyone “to keep doing our part.”
“That must include sharing vaccine science and supporting and empowering developing countries with more flexibility,” he said. “Where you’re born should not affect your ability to survive, when the drugs and know-how exist to keep you alive and well.”
Though the Duke and Duchess of Sussex are on parental leave following the birth of their second child, Lili, the two have remained actively involved in promoting access to the vaccine for all.
During an appearance in May at Global Citizen’s “Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World,” which Meghan and Harry both co-chaired, the duke called vaccine accessibility a “basic right.”
“The virus does not respect borders, and access to the vaccine cannot be determined by geography,” he said at the time. “It must be accepted as a basic right for all, and that is our starting point.”
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