Vax Live, a benefit concert filmed earlier this spring and aired over the weekend, had 27,000 (fully vaccinated) fans in attendance at SoFi Stadium, the largest event in California since March 2020. The event, fully titled “Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World” was designed to raise money to fight inequity in the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine, as well as help push back against hesitancy in taking the vaccination by showing the possibilities of returning to large scale events as the threat from COVID wanes.
“We’ve been away from our loved ones for too long, but we’re back,” Jennifer Lopez said while performing at the event alongside her mother. “While it’s getting better for us, there are people all over the world – especially in Africa, India, and in the Latin world – who still need our help and our vaccines.”
At the event, organizers claimed that the Global Citizen campaign capped by the concert had raised $302 million in funding and helped secure some 26 million vaccine doses for distribution. The money will go towards the World Health Organization’s COVIX Initiative, which aims at making the distribution of vaccines and supplies throughout the world more equitable.
“We cannot rest or truly recover until there is fair distribution to every corner of the world,” said Prince Harry of England, who co-chaired the event. “The virus does not respect borders and access to the vaccine cannot be determined by geography. We must look beyond ourselves with empathy and compassion for those we know, and those we don’t.”
While vaccination rollout has been swift in the United States, the story is far different in other countries. Center for Disease Control (CDC) data shows that approximately 34 percent of the population in the U.S. is now fully vaccinated against COVID, with some predicting that the ongoing effort will translate to a precipitous drop in hospitalization and mortality associated with the disease by this summer. Meanwhile, India has been slammed with a terrible surge in COVID cases over the past several weeks, has seen an estimated 12 doses of vaccine per 100 people.
President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, first lady Jill Biden, and Pope Francis were among those who taped video messages for those attending the Vax Live event and viewing on television. Oprah Winfrey also produced a segment touting the science behind the rapid rollout of the vaccinations that were enabling the crowd in the stands to be there in person. Musical acts included Foo Fighters, Eddie Vedder, J Balvin and H.E.R.
“If you’re on the fence about getting vaccinated, if you don’t think you need it to protect yourself, I’m not going to lecture you. I’m going to beg you,” said Selema Gomez, who hosted the event. “Please get vaccinated – for your family, your neighbors, and every single person you come in contact with.”