Prince Harry used a surprise appearance at the GQ Men of the Year Awards to blame “mass-scale misinformation” for vaccine hesitancy in the UK.

The Duke of Sussex made a virtual appearance at the awards to present a prize to Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, Professor Catherine Green and the team behind the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

In his speech he urged Boris Johnson’s government and other governments around the world to do all they can to vaccinate poorer countries.

He warned: “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”.

The duke said people were being “overwhelmed by mass-scale misinformation,” leading to hesitancy over the jab.

“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 it is, but there is a huge disparity between who can and cannot access the vaccine.

“Less than 2% of people in the developing world have received a single dose at this point. And many of the healthcare workers are still not vaccinated.

“We cannot move forward together unless we address this imbalance as one. 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 leads to divided communities and eroding trust.

“This is a system we need to break if we are to overcome Covid-19 and the risk of new variants.”

Oxford/AstraZeneca team ‘our nation’s pride’

The team of scientist behind the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine were described as “heroes of the highest order” by Prince Harry.

“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,” he said.

“That must include sharing vaccine science and supporting and empowering developing countries with more flexibility. Where you are born should not affect your ability to survive when the drugs and know-how exist to keep you alive and well.”

The award ceremony was attended by some of the UK’s biggest stars with singer Ed Sheeran, actor Rege-Jean Page and England manager Gareth Southgate all being honoured.

Line of Duty star Adrian Dunbar, Dame Vivienne Westwood and Hollywood filmmaker Quentin Tarantino were also awarded.