Event sponsored by anti-poverty organization raises more than $300M for Covax initiative.
The anti-poverty organization Global Citizen put on a benefit concert May 8, which ahead of its broadcast raised $302 million and secured over 26 million COVID-19 vaccine doses.
The event, called Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World, was pre-taped and drew an in-person audience of 27,000 fully vaccinated health care and essential workers. Politicians, celebrities, and musicians urged getting vaccinated and discouraged world leaders from stockpiling vaccines. Participants included Joe Biden, Jennifer Lopez, Oprah Winfrey, David Letterman, Jimmy Kimmel, Sean Penn … and Pope Francis.
Their call is as timely as ever, since according to the Economist on May 5:
In Africa, just 1% of people have received at least one dose of a vaccine; in Asia 4.4% have had a jab. In Europe and America, meanwhile, the shares are 22% and 44%, respectively, according to Our World in Data, a project run by researchers at the University of Oxford.
The $300 million raised will go toward vaccine delivery and equipment, as part of the COVAX initiative. All of the vaccine doses pledged will be delivered to low-income countries by the end of this year.
Prince Harry co-chaired the event with his wife Megan Markle.
“We cannot rest or truly recover until there is fair distribution to every corner of the world,” he said. “The virus does not respect borders and access to the vaccine cannot be determined by geography.”
Among those to address the event was Pope Francis, who joined in with a video message.
… warm greetings from this elderly man, who does not dance or sing like you, but who believes with you that injustice and evil are not invincible. The coronavirus has caused death and suffering, affecting the lives of all, especially the most vulnerable. Please do not forget the most vulnerable.
The pope warned against the sick roots of evil and the virus of individualism, “which does not make us freer or more equal or more brotherly or sisterly, but rather makes us indifferent to the suffering of others.” He called for vaccine technology to be shared.
And a variant of this virus is closed nationalism, which prevents, for example, an internationalism of vaccines.
Another variant is when we put the laws of the market or intellectual property above the laws of love and the health of humanity.
Another variant is when we create and promote a sick economy, which allows a few very rich people, a few very rich people, to own more than all the rest of humanity, and production and consumption patterns to destroy the planet, our “Common Home.”
Francis urged a suspension of patent rights as well as a more inclusive economy in general.
God the Creator instils in our hearts a new and generous spirit to abandon our individualism and promote the common good: a spirit of justice that mobilises us to ensure universal access to vaccines and the temporary suspension of intellectual property rights; a spirit of communion that allows us to generate a different, more inclusive, just and sustainable economic model.
The Holy Father insisted on what he has said since the beginning of the pandemic, that “we do not come out of a crisis the same as before: either we come out better or we come out worse.”
He called for “the inventiveness to look for better ways.”
The pope concluded his message with a prayer and a request for prayer:
May God, physician and saviour of all, comfort the suffering, and receive into His kingdom those who have already departed.
And I also ask God, for us, pilgrims on earth, to grant us the gift of a new fraternity, a universal solidarity, that we may recognise the good and the beauty He has sown in each one of us, to strengthen the bonds of unity, of common projects, of shared hopes.
Thank you for your efforts, thank you for all that you are doing. And I ask you, please do not forget to pray for me. Thank you.