Supported by an international concert hosted by Selena Gomez and titled by Jennifer Lopez, Global Citizen unveils an ambitious campaign to help medical workers in the world’s poorest countries receive COVID-19 vaccines quickly.
The anti-poverty organization announces the musical event – VAX Live: The Concert to Reunite the World – with the aim of mobilizing corporations and philanthropists to raise $ 22 billion for global vaccinations. The concert, which airs May 8 on US television stations ABC, CBS and FOX as well as iHeartMedia and YouTube radio stations, will also feature the Foo Fighters, Eddie Vedder, J Balvin and HER.
The proceedings will be recorded at SoFi Stadium in the western US city of Los Angeles, California.
Ahead of the event, Hugh Evans, CEO of Global Citizen, highlighted the scale of the problem his organization intends to address.
“There are 27 million healthcare workers around the world who don’t have access to the vaccine,” Evans told The Associated Press. “I am 38 years old and it is not ethical for me to have access to the vaccine in front of these heroic first responders and community health workers. So we urgently need governments to start giving those doses urgently. “
The Global Citizen program is part of a growing network of nonprofits and activists seeking to achieve wider and more equitable distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. As of this month, Evans said, 60 countries still had not received COVID-19 vaccines.
“Low-income countries don’t just need this welcome fundraising effort; they need to have access to doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, ”said Tom Hart, North American executive director of another nonprofit, The ONE Campaign, of the global fundraising campaign last month. “The United States has secured over 550 million excess doses that could be used to help end the global pandemic faster.”
A week later, Gayle Smith, President and CEO of the ONE Campaign, was selected by the Biden administration for the new position of the State Department’s Coordinator of Global COVID Response and Health Security.
Global Citizen, which normally focuses on tackling extreme poverty, got involved in COVID-19 vaccines out of necessity.
“We cannot return to the end of extreme poverty when 150 million people have been pushed back into extreme poverty this year due to the pandemic,” Evans said. “Everything else is academic until we can get a handle on it.”
The advocacy organization last year developed what it calls “a stimulus package for the world,” which it hopes will simultaneously address COVID-19, the climate crisis, issues of hunger and education, as well as racial equity. As part of this plan, Global Citizen secured $ 1.5 billion in commitments from the industrialized democracies of the Group of Seven (G7). Eventually, however, he recognized that more awareness and more funding was needed.
“We have decided that we need to bring the world together again with a global event that will bring together world leaders, artists, philanthropists and CEOs,” said Evans.
As he described, VAX Live will be the world’s first televised effort to pressure world leaders to contribute to a more equitable distribution of vaccines. The event also aims to mobilize pledges for the billions of dollars needed to send two billion doses of vaccine, in addition to COVID-19 tests, to the world’s poorest countries by the end of the year. However, even if Global Citizen raises enough money, it will still need richer countries that continue to stockpile vaccines to allow drug makers to prioritize poorer countries as customers.
“This is not a ‘mission accomplished’,” said Evans. “But there is light at the end of the tunnel if we can ensure equitable distribution of the vaccine.”
Global Citizen wants healthcare workers in every country around the world to receive a vaccine by the end of 2021, a year ahead of current plans.
“By June, the US government will have 45 million more doses than its entire vaccinated population, just sitting there in a cold room and warehouses,” Evans said. “It sounds absolutely insane for something that is for the common good to be sitting in a cold room.”
On Tuesday, Global Citizen also launched its Vax Because initiative to encourage people to get vaccinated when they can. The program will include ads developed by The Ad Council, YouTube and others to spark conversations among those who are reluctant to get vaccinated.
“If people see their friends and relatives taking it, they’re a lot more likely to take it,” Evans said. “If people think about what the vaccine actually does in terms of reuniting their friends and family, they’re much more likely to take it.”
For Evans, Gomez was a perfect host to make these points known to the people who needed to hear them the most.
“Selena Gomez is obviously an incredible leader in her own right,” he said. “She has one of the biggest social followings on the planet, and she’s also a true leader among young people and in the Latinx community.
Gomez, for her part, said she felt honored to have been chosen.
I am so happy to announce that I am hosting #VaxLive: The concert to bring the world together! I will join @glblctzn by calling for an equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine for all. Treat yourself on Saturday May 8: https://t.co/GcRFROXS9H pic.twitter.com/CTzjqdon7W
– Selena Gomez (@selenagomez) April 13, 2021
“This is a historic moment to encourage people around the world to take the COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available to them, call on world leaders to fairly share vaccine doses and bring people together for a night of music in a way that hasn’t felt possible over the past year or so, ”the Lose You to Love Me singer said in a statement. “I can’t wait to be a part of it.”
I am so excited to join @glblctzn for #VaxLive: The concert to bring the world together! I will play and join with Global Citizen in calling for a fair distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine for all. Treat yourself on Saturday May 8: https://t.co/HiAYoyfNrA. pic.twitter.com/EDn9RBSFPn
– jlo (@JLo) April 13, 2021
For years, Global Citizen has used the power of celebrity relationships with their fans to create a “collective action” movement that shows government leaders how popular certain programs can be. Its annual Global Citizen Festivals in Central Park pursued its goals of ending extreme poverty by 2030 with the help of fans of Beyonce or Coldplay or Stevie Wonder speaking to world leaders on social media.
The group hopes to do it again with VAX Live.
“I think as we grew up we all learned what I would call ‘Sally Struthers’ vision of charity – if I just give a few dollars here and there it will make a difference,” said Evans. “Not only is this methodology not scalable, it’s really just crumbs on the table. It won’t give anybody a meal. This will not result in any long term durability. We believe in the power of “collective action” because we know we are trying to change the systems that keep people in poverty. “