Global Citizen’s VAX LIVE: The Concert to Reunite the World is bringing together artists, entertainers, and world leaders to support vaccine equity. On Tuesday they announced additions to the VAX LIVE lineup of appearances, as well as new commitments from corporations and governments that will help get COVID-19 shots in more arms around the world.
Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, will serve as campaign chairs of VAX LIVE, encouraging the private sector to make donations to COVAX, the vaccine pillar of the ACT-Accelerator, to ensure everyone, everywhere can access COVID-19 vaccines.
“Over the past year, our world has experienced pain, loss, and struggle — together. Now we need to recover and heal — together,” said Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.
“We can’t leave anybody behind. We will all benefit, we will all be safer, when everyone, everywhere has equal access to the vaccine. We must pursue equitable vaccine distribution, and in that, restore faith in our common humanity. This mission couldn’t be more critical or important.”
Hosted by multi-platinum recording artist, actress, and producer Selena Gomez, the VAX LIVE broadcast special on May 8 will feature musical performances by Jennifer Lopez, Eddie Vedder, Foo Fighters, J Balvin, and H.E.R. Special guests from around the world will also speak about the importance of vaccine equity, including Ben Affleck, Chrissy Teigen, David Letterman, Gayle King, Jimmy Kimmel, Nomzamo Mbatha, Olivia Munn, and Sean Penn.
While many countries have begun rolling out COVID-19 vaccines, the pandemic is far from over. More than 1 billion doses have been administered worldwide, but low-income nations continue to lag behind due to inequitable access to vaccines and a surge in daily coronavirus cases. Health care systems are struggling to accommodate the influx of people needing medical attention, particularly in India where hospitals are running out of oxygen supplies and asking for aid, according to the New York Times.
AX LIVE will call on governments to donate doses and resources to address the world’s coronavirus needs. As the first large-scale music event for a COVID-19-compliant audience of fully vaccinated frontline health care and essential workers, the broadcast special will call on world leaders to pledge a total of $19 billion — the outstanding balance needed by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) ACT-Accelerator to get 1.8 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses, as well as tests and treatments, to the world’s poorest countries by the end of 2021.
As part of the VAX LIVE campaign so far, Spain has announced a donation of 7.5 million vaccine doses to Latin America and the Caribbean as soon as 50% of the Spanish population is vaccinated. France also announced that it would begin donating vaccine doses through COVAX immediately, with an initial donation of 100,000 doses this month and at least 500,000 by June.
“As part of the VAX LIVE campaign, the Government of Spain will facilitate to Latin America and the Caribbean a quantity of vaccines against COVID-19 that corresponds, at least, to between 5% and 10% of the total vaccines that our country receives throughout 2021,” said Prime Minister of Spain Pedro Sánchez. “I am proud of my country and of the dedication of its people, including public representatives, for showing solidarity in responding to this crisis, that has been so brutal both in Spain and abroad.”
“Last autumn, I called for the sharing of the doses ordered by our countries, to ensure both solidarity and health security,” said President Emmanuel Macron of France. “This winter I proposed that each country share at least 5% of the doses ordered with the poorest countries. I can already tell you that, as far as France is concerned, this objective will be exceeded by the end of the year. With the European vaccine sharing mechanism via the COVAX initiative that France is inaugurating, we are in concrete solidarity in the fight against the virus, which does not care about borders. Today I call on all my colleagues to join this momentum and make a commitment at VAX LIVE.”
Cisco, the Analog Devices Foundation, and the Coca-Cola Foundation have also made commitments to COVAX as part of the campaign. Cisco has pledged to donate $5 million, which will be matched by an anonymous Swiss Foundation donor. The Analog Devices Foundation announced $1 million, and the Coca-Cola Foundation will donate $500,000. Together, these commitments totaling $11.5 million will allow for the purchase of 2.3 million vaccine doses for health workers on the front lines.
In order to get enough people immunized to end the acute phase of the pandemic, however, world leaders must also help reduce vaccine hesitancy.
That’s why US President Joe Biden, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, and Vice President Kamala Harris will make a special appearance as part of VAX LIVE through Global Citizen’s partnership with the White House’s “We Can Do This” initiative, which seeks to increase public confidence in COVID-19 vaccines while reinforcing basic prevention measures, such as mask wearing and social distancing.
Featured appearances by President Emmanuel Macron of France, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, and Prime Minister Andrej Plenković of Croatia are also planned.
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