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Tuesday, Jul 27, 2021

Prince Harry and Jennifer Lopez lead 'Vax Live' concert in Los Angeles

Prince Harry and Jennifer Lopez lead 'Vax Live' concert in Los Angeles

The star-studded event has raised more than $53 million in donations, surpassing the fundraising goal, organisers said

Britain's Prince Harry joined pop royalty, including Jennifer Lopez, at a star-studded concert in Los Angeles on Sunday to urge faster and more even global vaccinations, as he voiced support for India during its devastating Covid-19 outbreak.

Vax Live: The Concert To Reunite The World featured video messages from the Pope and US President Joe Biden, plus in-person appearances from Hollywood stars such as Ben Affleck and Sean Penn.

The show will broadcast on television and YouTube on Saturday, after being pre-taped in front of thousands of fully vaccinated spectators at a vast California stadium on Sunday.

"Tonight, we stand in solidarity with the millions of families across India, who are battling a devastating second wave," said Prince Harry, who was greeted with a standing ovation.

"The virus does not respect borders, and access to the vaccine cannot be determined by geography," added Harry, making his first in-person appearance at a major public event in California since moving in 2020 to the US with wife Meghan Markle, who did not appear at the event.

The concert organised by Global Citizen, an international advocacy organisation, aims to battle vaccine disinformation while calling on world leaders and corporations to take action and make donations.

Thousands of spectators gathered inside LA's giant, recently completed SoFi Stadium for the first time. Most attendees were frontline medical workers, many dressed in nurse and doctor uniforms.

Selena Gomez hosted proceedings, calling for "doses and dollars" to go to the world's poorest countries, even as California and parts of the West emerge from lengthy lockdowns thanks to massive inoculation progress.

US singer Jennifer Lopez performs onstage during the taping of the Vax Live fundraising concert at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California.

A glittering JLo told fans she had been forced to spend Christmas without her mother for the first time because of the pandemic – before bringing the Lopez matriarch on to an elaborate meadow-themed stage for a feel good singalong of Sweet Caroline.

The Foo Fighters were joined by surprise guest Brian Johnson of AC/DC for a rendition of Back In Black.

"We ain't out of the woods yet... let's work as hard as we can to make sure we can do this" every night, said frontman Dave Grohl.

Organisers said the event had surpassed its fundraising goal need to purchase 10 million vaccine doses for low and middle-income countries, drawing more than $53 million in donations from corporations and philanthropists.

In pre-taped messages, President Biden said he was "working with leaders around the world to share more vaccines and boost production", while Pope Francis said: "I beg you not to forget the most vulnerable."

Other video messages came from Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan, French President Emmanuel Macron and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Prince Harry, who took to the large circular stage in the middle of the arena dressed casually in a blue shirt, described online disinformation about vaccines as a "humanitarian crisis" that is "getting worse".

The concert will stream on YouTube along with American television networks ABC and CBS on Saturday at 8pm ET (midnight GMT). It will also show internationally on Brazil's Globo, Colombia's Caracol TV, SABC in South Africa and MultiChoice in Africa.


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