Prince Harry and Meghan Markle joins music stars in calling for vaccine equity at 24-hour event

The climate, women's economic empowerment, mental health, youth engagement and vaccine equity were on the agenda as the British royals met a senior UN official.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle speak at the 2021 Global Citizen Live event.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle speak at the 2021 Global Citizen Live event. Source: AAP

The Duke of Sussex has called on pharmaceutical companies to waive their intellectual property rights on COVID-19 vaccines as he said the pandemic was becoming a "human rights crisis".

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, took to the stage in New York as part of Global Citizen Live, a 24-hour event calling on world leaders to adopt a vaccine equity policy.

Performers including Ed Sheeran, Coldplay and Lizzo were also part of the occasion which included events in Lagos, London, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Rio, Seoul and Sydney.

"We're battling more than the virus alone, this is a battle of misinformation, bureaucracy, lack of transparency and lack of access and, above all, this is a human rights crisis," Harry said.

Harry and Meghan said they had spoken to experts about the pandemic and the issues in worldwide vaccine equity.

"They said many countries are ready to produce vaccines at home yet they aren't allowed to because ultra-wealthy pharmaceutical companies are not sharing the recipes to make them," Harry said.

"These countries have the means, the ability and the workers to start manufacturing. All they are waiting for is the vaccine intellectual property to be waived and the vaccine technology to be transferred.

"Many of these vaccines were publicly funded. They are your vaccines, you paid for them."

Before their appearance, the couple spoke to UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina Mohammed about vaccines and other fields they "care about deeply" including climate action and mental health.

Ms Mohammed, a former environment minister for Nigeria, later tweeted a picture of the group, saying: "In conversation with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex - sharing how to engage on issues we care about deeply: climate action, women's economic empowerment, mental well-being, youth engagement and vaccine equity".

Harry and Meghan's visit is their first public appearance together since the birth of their daughter Lilibet in June.

Meghan told the crowd that "every single person on this planet has a fundamental right to get this vaccine".

"While in this country and many others you can go almost anywhere and get vaccinated, billions around the world cannot," she said.

"It is wrong that so much of the vaccine supply has only gone to just 10 wealthy nations so far and not everyone else. It's just not OK.

"Just think about the millions of vaccines that have been discarded this year. That's like throwing away life vests, when those around you are drowning."

Published 26 September 2021 at 3:21pm, updated 26 September 2021 at 4:30pm
Source: AAP