Prince Harry and J-Lo lead Vax Live concert in Los Angeles

The concert had been pre-taped on May 2, 2021. PHOTOS: AFP
Actor Ben Affleck and television host Jimmy Kimmel during the Vax Live fundraising concert. PHOTO: AFP
Selena Gomez hosted the proceedings. PHOTO: AFP
During the concert, Jennifer Lopez told fans she had been forced to spend Christmas without her mother for the first time due to the pandemic. PHOTO: AFP
Prince Harry described online disinformation about vaccines as a "humanitarian crisis". PHOTO: AFP

Los Angeles (AFP) - Britain's Prince Harry joined pop royalty, including Jennifer Lopez, at a star-studded concert in Los Angeles on Sunday (May 3) 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 United States President Joe Biden, as well as in-person appearances from Hollywood stars such as Ben Affleck and Sean Penn.

The show will air on television and YouTube on May 8, 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 Prince Harry, making his first in-person appearance at a major public event in California since moving last year to the US with wife Meghan Markle, who did not appear.

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 Los Angeles' giant, recently completed SoFi stadium for the first time. Most attendees were front-line medical workers, many dressed in nurse and doctor uniforms.

Singer 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.

A glittering J-Lo told fans she had been forced to spend Christmas without her mother for the first time due to the pandemic - before bringing the Lopez matriarch onto an elaborate meadow-themed stage for a feelgood singalong of Sweet Caroline.

Organisers said the event had surpassed its fundraising goal needed to purchase 10 million vaccine doses for low- and middle-income countries, drawing more than US$53 million (S$71 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, described online disinformation about vaccines as a "humanitarian crisis" that is "getting worse".

Remote video URL

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.