INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Prince Harry urged people to get COVID-19 vaccinations and pushed for equity in vaccine distribution around the world at a star-studded concert Sunday.
“This pandemic will not end unless we act collectively with an unprecedented commitment to our shared humanity,” he told thousands of vaccinated healthcare and essential workers during the first of two appearances at Global Citizen’s “Vax Live: The Concert to Reunite the World.”
Harry, the Duke of Sussex, and his wife, Duchess Meghan, serve as campaign chairs for the concert event, taped Sunday at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, a city in Los Angeles County. It will be presented Saturday on ABC, CBS, YouTube and the iHeartMedia broadcast radio stations at 8 p.m. ET. Fox will also broadcast the concert at 11 p.m. ET.
Between performances by Jennifer Lopez, Foo Fighters and other stars, Harry took the stage by himself to big applause at the new home of the two Los Angeles NFL franchises. He praised essential workers in the audience while pressing for a shared effort to defeat the pandemic globally.
He first thanked to “frontline heroes” in the audience and around the world.
“You’ve spent the last year battling courageously and selflessly to protect us all,” Harry said. “You’ve served and sacrificed, put yourselves in harm’s way and acted with bravery knowing the cost. We owe you an incredible debt of gratitude.”
Harry then cited the need for a joint worldwide effort to defeat COVID-19. “The vaccine must be distributed to everyone, everywhere,” he said. “We cannot rest or truly recover until there is fair distribution to every corner of the world.”
Uneven distribution of vaccines remains a problem, he said, calling the campaign for equity “one in which we cannot afford to fail.” He said “the virus does not respect borders” and pointed specifically to the COVID surge that has been ravaging India.
“None of us should be comfortable with thinking that we can be fine when so many others are suffering. In reality, and especially with this pandemic, when any suffer, we all suffer,” he said. “We need to lift up all of humanity and make sure that no person or community is left behind. What we do at this moment will stand in history. And tonight we stand in solidarity for millions of families across India who are battling a devastating second wave.”
The casually dressed prince returned to the stage later to warn against the dangers of misinformation in the fight against the pandemic.
“We are experiencing a viral pandemic alongside a digital pandemic. In today’s world, we are so connected, like a vast nervous system, whether we’re online or not. And much like the virus, there are no borders online. So when vaccine misinformation and disinformation spreads on social media and in parts of traditional media, it poses a collective threat to humanity,” he said.
That, in turn, has led to a rise in vaccine hesitancy by some people, something that “is not an option,” he said. “We must tackle each of these issues head on: vaccine equity and misinformation. If vaccine distribution moved as quickly as misinformation, just imagine how many lives could be saved.”
Britain’s Harry and American-born Meghan, who are expecting their second child, have a home in southern California.
Other performers at the concert, hosted by Selena Gomez, included Eddie Vedder, H.E.R. and J Balvin, with stage appearances by Ben Affleck, Jimmy Kimmel, Olivia Munn, David Letterman, Chrissy Teigen and Sean Penn. President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden, the first lady, delivered a pre-recorded message in support of vaccinations.
The “Vax Live” concert and campaign are designed to encourage people to get COVID-19 vaccinations and to persuade governments, corporations and philanthropists to contribute to efforts to make the vaccine available worldwide.