Prince Harry Compares COVID-19 to HIV—A Cause Princess Diana Championed

Prince Harry has linked COVID-19 to the HIV pandemic, during which Princess Diana did some of her most inspiring work.

The Duke of Sussex said both global public health emergencies were prolonged by "corporate greed and political failure" blocking access to treatment.

He called for major pharmaceutical companies to share vaccine technology and allow doses to be produced locally in the developing world, as part of the People's Vaccine campaign.

In a video marking World AIDS Day, Harry said: "There are striking parallels between COVID-19 and another deadly pandemic, one that emerged 40 years ago—HIV."

In the footage, he added: "This is a story about how corporate greed and political failure have prolonged both pandemics and what we can do to stop it."

The duke teamed up with Winnie Byanyima, executive director at UNAIDS, to say both pandemics required activism to break the power of corporate monopolies, in the case of HIV over antiretroviral drugs.

He said: "In the early 2000s a wave of activism helped break drug company monopolies giving millions of people access to generic medicines at a fraction of the price."

He added: "By ending vaccine monopolies and sharing technology countries in the developed world can start producing COVID vaccines too."

The video features an image of Princess Diana visiting the AIDS unit of St Mary's Hospital, in London, in December 1989.

The royal engagement came two years after she famously shook the hand of an HIV/Aids patient without gloves at a time when some still mistakenly believed the virus could be passed on by touch.

The prince called for vaccine equity in a speech for Global Citizen Live in Central Park, in New York, on September 25.

He said: "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.

"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 over.

"By the way, many of these vaccines were publicly funded. They are your vaccines, you paid for them."

Christine Stegling, executive director at Frontline AIDS, said: "This is not the first time the governments of rich countries have moved on from a problem as soon as it appears to be in someone else's back yard.

"We saw it with AIDS, where the transformative impact of HIV treatments in rich countries has seen urgency, focus and funding for the global response fall sharply, and we are starting to see the same thing with Covid-19. We cannot allow history to repeat itself.

"The COVID-19 pandemic is far from over, but high-income, high-vaccination countries are already starting to talk about future pandemics, while turning a blind eye to those that continue to impact poorer regions. This will only prolong the pain of existing pandemics, placing millions of lives at risk.

"We urgently need a People's Vaccine to benefit everyone, everywhere."

Prince Harry and Princess Diana
Prince Harry calls for Vaccine Equity alongside Meghan Markle at Global Citizen Live, in New York City, on September 25, 2021. Princess Diana talks to patients in the AIDS unit of St Mary's Hospital, in London, in December 1989. NDZ/Star Max/GC Images and Princess Diana Archive/Getty Images