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Prince Harry Honors COVID-19 Researchers at GQ Men of the Year Awards

Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex, virtually attends the GQ Men Of The Year Awards ceremony on September 1, 2021. Richard Young/Shutterstock


Prince Harry Honors COVID-19 Researchers at GQ Men of the Year Awards


Prince Harry was dressed to impress for his unexpected appearance at the British GQ Men of the Year Awards in London on Wednesday.

As he gave the ceremony’s last award — Heroes of the Year — to the Oxford University team of scientists that created the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine for their accomplishments during the epidemic, Harry looked suave in a black velvet tuxedo from his Montecito, Calif., home.

Professor Sarah Gilbert, Dr. Catherine Green, Emma Bolam, Ian Poulton, Laura Walker, Mwila Kasanyinga, Wendy Crocker, Lisa Stockdale, Jamie Fowler, and Syed Adlou, as well as the rest of the Oxford University team that helped develop AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine, were honored by Prince Harry. He also used his platform to call on the world to embrace vaccine equality, pointing out that the vast majority of vaccinations take place in first-world Western countries.

“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,” he said in his speech. “Their breakthrough research on the Oxford vaccine has brought the world one of our greatest tools for achieving vaccine equity.”

“As people sit in the room with you tonight, more than a third of the global population has received at least one dose of the vaccine. That’s more than five billion shots given around the world so far,” he said. “It sounds like a major accomplishment, and in many ways is. But 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.”

The duke commended Gilbert, Green, and the rest of the team for tackling their job “with a humanitarian urgency,” pointing out that they sent a consignment of research cultures to India to help resolve the worldwide issue.


“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,” he said. “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 went on to highlight the disparities in vaccination accessibility as well as widespread misconceptions regarding vaccine efficacy.

“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.

“We cannot move forward together unless we address this imbalance as one,” he said. “This is a system we need to break if we are to overcome COVID-19 and the rise of new variants. The Oxford Team have done their part. They are 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.”

“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.”

Ed Sheeran, Anthony Hopkins, Quentin Tarantino, and Bridgerton actor Regé-Jean Page were among the other honorees at the British GQ Men of Year Awards.

Months earlier, the war veteran pushed the public to be vaccinated during his appearance at Global Citizen’s Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World in May.

“This pandemic cannot end unless we act collectively with an unprecedented commitment to our shared humanity,” he said at the time. “The vaccine must be distributed to everyone everywhere. We cannot rest or truly recover until there is fair distribution to every corner of the world. The mission in front of us is one we cannot afford to fail out and that’s what tonight is about. The virus does not respect borders and access to the vaccine cannot be determined by geography. It must be accepted as a basic right for all, and that is our starting point.”

Duchess Meghan unveiled her 40×40 project to assist women into the workforce with an unique skit shot partially at their Montecito home a month before Harry’s appearance. Through their Archewell Foundation, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex recently contributed to charity initiatives in Afghanistan and Haiti.

Harry ended his remarks by thanking Gilbert, Green, and their team once more. “These are two exceptional people — with a remarkable team — who are a bulwark of humanity,” he said.

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