On May 7, 2021, Global Citizen’s VAX LIVE: The Concert to Reunite the World called on the world’s leaders to urgently contribute financially and donate excess COVID-19 vaccine doses to countries in need, to help bring the pandemic to an end for everyone, everywhere.

Millions of people from more than 100 countries tuned in for VAX LIVE, the concert, hosted by Selena Gomez, and featuring VAX LIVE campaign chairs Prince Harry and Meghan, The Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

In the lead up to the event, Selena Gomez joined other celebrities and advocates, supporting the campaign on Twitter by calling on world leaders to step up support for global vaccine equity, alongside the actions of thousands of Global Citizens.

By May 2, the campaign had mobilized more than $53 million in commitments to secure vaccines in support of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the vaccine-sharing program COVAX.

The event announced pledges to secure millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses and $300 million in cash grants from governments, and over $65 million from the private sector, to ensure the urgent and equitable acquisition and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments to vulnerable communities.

Now, a year on from the VAX LIVE event, all funding from the private sector has been disbursed, and almost all COVID-19 doses announced at VAX LIVE have been delivered to communities across the globe including in the South Pacific, Latin America, Eastern Europe, the Balkans, and Africa.

But, over two years after the COVID-19 pandemic began, the world's most vulnerable countries still lack the capacity and resources to effectively tackle it. Despite high-income countries having an overall vaccination rate of 75%, low-income countries have only vaccinated 13% of their populations.

Administering, trained health professionals from Eka Kotebe showing the first COVAX vaccines in EthiopiaAdministering, trained health professionals from Eka Kotebe showing the first COVAX vaccines in Ethiopia, NICEF Ethiopia/2021/ Nahom Tesfaye

Today people are still dying from COVID-19 largely because they’re unable to access vaccines in time; meanwhile COVID-19 continues to have devastating socio-economic impacts — reversing 20 years of progress on maternal mortality, widening the poverty gap, disrupting education for millions of children, and, as the virus continues to spread within communities, increasing the risk for new and dangerous COVID-19 variants

One thing is clear, we need to keep working together to ensure global vaccination strategies ensure truly global vaccine coverage — both for COVID-19 and for future health threats — and this means ensuring equity, at all costs

Global Citizen continues to fight for vaccine justice, to ensure lower-income countries receive the support and tools they need to protect people now from COVID-19 and its impacts. You can join us in this effort too, by taking action with us here.

“Six months ago, at VaxLive, Global Citizens appealed to world leaders to step up support for equitable COVID-19 vaccine access, resulting in millions of doses committed to COVAX," said Dr Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, in November.

"These pledges were important, but to make an impact they need to be delivered quickly, safely and at scale. This is why COVAX is calling on donor governments and manufacturers to set countries up for success by ensuring doses are available in larger and more predictable volumes, with longer shelf lives. By turning vaccines into vaccinations, we have a chance to beat the virus and begin to restore normalcy to our lives and economies," added Berkley. 

Haiti Ward Nurses At a maternal and child clinic at La Fossette Health Center in Haiti, patients arrive for regular check-ups as well as vaccinations. Photo by Karen Kasmauski, MCSP and JhpiegoAt a maternal and child clinic at La Fossette Health Center in Haiti, patients arrive for regular check-ups as well as vaccinations. Pictured are ward nurses and student nurses giving vaccines to babies. Many countries are facing disruptions to health services amidst COVID-19, and USAID is reminded of the need to protect global immunization progress and continue working towards equitable access to vaccines for all. Photo by Karen Kasmauski, MCSP and Jhpiego

Here’s an update on how, thanks to the actions of Global Citizens, supporters, and partners, pledges announced at VAX LIVE are helping COVAX deliver vaccines around the world, and ensuring equitable health care access to communities during the pandemic:

  • COVAX has received $39.7 million in funding announced at VAX LIVE, with an additional $23.6 million matched and unlocked through the Gavi Matching Funds Mechanism. This funding has helped support vaccine acquisition, delivery, and digital solutions to combat COVID-19.
  • $2.5 million in funding has been received by the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Fund to help the organization provide personal protective equipment (PPE), testing kits, and life-saving supplies to 162 countries.
  • More than 14 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been delivered from pledges made by Norway, Spain, and Croatia to countries and communities in need.
  • Norway has delivered 6.7 million doses via COVAX, in addition to Spain, which has delivered all 7.5 million COVID-19 doses to countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, which were pledged as part of VAX LIVE. Spain has also delivered an additional 35 million COVID-19 doses to countries across the globe.
  • Croatia delivered 50,000 COVID-19 doses, in coordination with COVAX, to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and Kosovo, alongside Croatia’s announcement of €500,000 to COVAX, which has been disbursed to countries in need.
  • New Zealand reiterated its pledge to donate 1.6 million COVID-19 doses to South Pacific nations, and has since increased that commitment to 2.7 million doses, which were delivered to Cameroon, Fiji, Indonesia, Malawi, Mauritania, Niger, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, South Sudan, Timor-Leste, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu, and Vietnam.
  • Global Citizen is also currently in contact with the governments of Canada and the United Arab Emirates and we expect to receive updates on their commitments in the near future.
  • COVAX and WHO have received all the private sector funding announced at VAX LIVE and are using it to support the global fight against COVID-19, including the acquisition of PPE, vaccines, and delivery in Pakistan and Niger.

COVAX continues to work urgently to secure and deliver COVID-19 vaccines to ensure vaccines are made available around the world.

Now, more than ever, the voices of Global Citizens matter. Eradicating extreme poverty requires international cooperation, solidarity, and resources to overcome the systems and beliefs that create it. You can join Global Citizen’s year-long 2022 campaign, End Extreme Poverty NOW, by taking action here.

VAXLIVE_JBalvin_RozetteRagoForGlobalCitizen_003.jpgJ Balvin performs at Global Citizen's Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World, on May 8 2021 at Los Angeles' SoFi Stadium

The campaign is prioritizing three key areas that will drive the greatest impact in the mission to end extreme poverty and its systemic causes: empowering girls NOW; breaking the systemic barriers that keep people trapped in poverty NOW; and taking climate action NOW. Cutting across all our work throughout the year is our strong commitment to defend and promote advocacy, ensuring that marginalized voices are heard, and that leaders are held accountable to deliver on their promises.

Become part of a movement powered by citizens around the world who are taking action together with governments, corporations, and philanthropists to make a change, by signing up on our website or by downloading the Global Citizen app, and joining us in taking action now.

Impact

Defeat Poverty

‘VAX LIVE’ Pledges Provide Immediate Aid & Vaccines to Communities in Need, But Vast Inequities Still Remain

By Camille May