NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The first large-scale concert for a COVID-compliant audience will be televised on Saturday night.
"VAX LIVE: The Concert to Reunite the World" aims to improve equitable distribution of the COVID-19 vaccines around the world.
The COVID-19 vaccines have given a shot of hope for millions after an arduous year, but some nations are still far behind in the global fight.
The event will call on world leaders to step up for equitable distribution of the vaccines.
International advocacy organization Global Citizen, which is presenting the event, says more than $53 million has been raised so far in charitable and corporate commitments.
"When we set out on this initiative we partnered with the Ad Council and there was really two objectives. First thing was overcoming vaccine hesitancy by showing the power of science, showing that the vaccine is safe and effective, but the second thing we want to focus on was really ensuring vaccine equity," Global Citizen CEO Hugh Evans told WCBS 880's Lynda Lopez. "So we've been calling on companies, calling on governments to step up in support of vaccine equity and donate dollars for doses or doses directly and I'm proud to tell you that through this campaign already, over 10 million doses have been committed to those who need it most."
While watching the concert, fans who want to help the effort can visit GlobalCitizen.org/take-action.
"There's two things they can do right now. They can actually donate doses directly, so for every $5 you contribute that's one vaccine dose donated through COVAX which has also worked in partnership with UNICEF to get this vaccine to everyone on the planet," Evans said. "But the second thing you can do is you can actually take action you can call on governments, call on the pharmaceutical companies to really step up and be more generous at this time because as French President Macron said every G7 nation should be donating right now at least 5% of their total vaccine dose to support those who need it most so we want to call on the G7 to step up."
The U.S. government, for example, recently vowed to donate 60 million AstraZeneca vaccine doses to countries in need.
VAX LIVE is part of Global Citizen's year-long campaign to "end COVID-19 for all, end the hunger crisis, resume learning everywhere, protect the planet, and advance equity for all."
"This has really been a yearlong effort for the organization focused not just on PPE, but then on vaccine development and now vaccine deployment and it's been a whole-hearted commitment to make sure that the world can get back on track to eradicating extreme poverty within our lifetime," Evans said.
VAX LIVE will be hosted by Selena Gomez and feature musical performances by Jennifer Lopez, Eddie Vedder, Foo Fighters, J Balvin and H.E.R.
"When J. Lo agreed to headline VAX LIVE she immediately said, 'I've been passionate working with UNICEF for a long time and I want to see vaccine equity on the planet. I want to see that the Latinx community have access to the vaccine not just here in the United States, but in Latin America.' So the only way we could do that is actually calling on governments to step up funding and so that partnership became critical to this advocacy effort," Evans said.
Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex, are serving as Campaign Chairs of VAX LIVE and will deliver an important global message for vaccine equity during the event.
President Joe Biden, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will also make a special appearance.
YouTube will stream an extended version of VAX LIVE on the Global Citizen channel for a full run-time of 90 minutes.
It will also air and livestream on on ABC, ABC News Live, CBS, YouTube, iHeartMedia broadcast radio stations and the iHeartRadio App, at 8:00 PM ET/PT, 7:00 PM CT. The concert will also air on FOX at 11:00 PM ET/PT.
Evans also promises there will be a Global Citizen Festival in Central Park this summer.