In the latest more than mildly dystopic news, Global Citizen has announced that it will be hosting a live stream concert called “Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World” to raise money to vaccinate the over 27 million healthcare workers across the world working to provide care during the covid-19 pandemic. The event, which is similar to a Lady Gaga-headlined event from 2020, is hosted by Selena Gomez, and will feature performances from artists including H.E.R., the Foo Fighters, J Balvin, and Jennifer Lopez. The name of the concert is certainly... ambitious, considering the lineup of talent. Or is it delusional? It’s hard to decide, but I’m certainly suspicious of the agenda to convince us that J.Lo’s music has the power to “reunite the world.”
Billboard reports that the concert will encourage philanthropists and corporations to donate “dollars-for-doses,” while also encouraging “changemakers” to ask world leaders to distribute vaccines equitably. (I don’t know what a changemaker is, please don’t ask me.) Vax Live aims to inspire people from across the world to “plead with their governments” to pledge $22.1 billion in order to distribute 2 billion vaccines and other medical equipment to poor countries by the end of 2021. I certainly appreciate the intent of this event, but if it’s relying on citizens literally begging their governments to pledge money to help poorer countries access life-saving healthcare, history suggests they won’t have much luck.
The current disparity in global vaccine distribution is so stark that a number of African, South American, and Asian countries are not expected to have widely vaccinated their populations until 2023, while the latest data shows that the U.S. has at least partially vaccinated over 40% of its adult population. Experts and advocates across the world have been demanding wealthy countries work to make vaccine distribution more equitable since the very beginning of the pandemic, but Western countries have deliberately and repeatedly avoided attempts to make vaccine production more accessible to manufacturers in lower-income countries.
While I’m absolutely on board with doing anything and everything possible to guarantee that not just healthcare workers, but everyone across the world are able to get vaccinated, it’s concerning that Global Citizen seems to be taking its cues on how to resolve issues created by global wealth disparities and legacies of colonialism from Disney Channel Movies. In the real world, unfortunately, it takes more than a rousing musical performance to inspire wealthy countries to care about the welfare of poorer countries—if it’s even possible at all.
Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World will be airing and streaming across a variety of services on Saturday, May 8 at 8 p.m. EST.