Lufthansa Setting Up Duty Free Vaccination Center, $1200 For Flights And Shots

Update: Lufthansa denies any plan for this,

Moscow Domodedovo Airport has a general vaccination point located within the airport in the arrivals area (landside). This vaccination center is open to airport employees, Russian citizens and foreigners with resident permit in Russia. Currently, there is no Lufthansa Lounge at Moscow Domodedovo Airport and no plans for the airline to open a vaccination center there. For further questions or details on the vaccination center, please contact Moscow Domodedovo Airport.

Lufthansa will set up a Covid-19 vaccination site inside Moscow Domodedovo airport so that people can fly in, get the Sputnik V vaccine without clearing immigration or customs, and then fly back.

Germany is “facing a chronic shortage of any vaccine at all” even though the ‘Pfizer’ vaccine was developed by German company BioNTech and “[t]he least endangered Germans have been told they may have to wait until 2022 until they can receive their jabs.” As a result,

Lufthansa is betting they are willing to buy special tickets to Moscow where the company intends to set up a special lounge in Moscow, isolated from the rest of the airport, where punters can receive their jab without the need to clear the border, and then immediately fly out again before returning a few weeks later for the booster jab.

Lufthansa is understood to be in talks with Russia’s foreign ministry about establishing a regular service between Frankfurt Airport and Moscow Domodedovo…A transit zone has already been designated at Domodedovo to give the shots.

While this is being framed as a luxury first class package, it’s expected to be priced within a range that more people can afford than you’d expect: “The cost of the medical tourism package, which would involve two round[trip] flights to Moscow, would initially be about €1,000” (US$1200). The program could be extended to Zurich and Vienna departures as well as Frankfurt.

Four key takeaways,

  1. If you care about equity you should favor this development. People who take advantage of Sputnik vaccination won’t be in line for other jabs, freeing up vaccine for others who can’t afford this to get their shots more quickly. It removes ‘the rich’ from competition over scarce supplies.

  2. More vaccination is good for everyone, since studies so far have suggested that those vaccines which have been examined don’t just protect the person vaccinated but also reduce spread. That makes people taking advantage of this less of a threat to others.

  3. This is appealing because of how governments have bungled vaccination. Europe worried more about price per dose than about accelerating shots in arms. They should have guaranteed purchases far earlier and incentivized quick production starting long before approval.

  4. The Russian vaccine is likely underrated. It was over-promoted by the Kremlin early on, and combined with being Russian that likely led to too much skepticism. But the endorsement from Lufthansa, and the belief that they can sell it to savvy consumers, is a real ‘shot in the arm’ for Russia’s vaccination program.

Ultimately we need more jabs in arms, the quicker the better, through whatever means necessary. Many governments have been more focused on who gets shots out of a limited supply than making sure people get shots, and increasing supply. That prolongs the pandemic and costs lives.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I agree. While vaccine access is an important factor, what’s more important is to get everyone vaccinated. One arm now means one fewer arm later and one fewer opportunity for variants to develop.

  2. “Many governments have been more focused on who gets shots out of a limited supply than making sure people get shots, and increasing supply. That prolongs the pandemic and costs lives.”

    All arms are not created equal. You get a lot more bang for your buck vaccinating someone 55+ (where the overwhelming amount of death is) vs an 18 year old.

    And while you’re probably right that the Sputnik V vaccine is better than we “thought” (especially, as you say, how it was proven effective before hardly any trial), I would still be skeptical given Russia. The Chinese-made versions are barely 50% effective, which would just barely clear the bar the FDA originally set – not that they’ll be released in the US at all.

    I’m all for vaccinating everyone as quickly as possible, and life certainly isn’t perfect, but Grandpa > Grandkid > Trash.

  3. hard to see people paying $1200 for the Russian vaccine when 85% of their Astra Zeneca supply is lying unused due to people preferring to wait for the biontech vaccine

  4. I posted this sentiment on Twitter yesterday but will repeat it here. As vaccine supplies ramp up, we need to be looking not only at doses as something that can expire but at timeslots/maximizing throughput as well. Delaying jabs because we are focused on finding the exact next person in line will come at a detriment to increasing efficiency at a certain point. Sites will likely need to shift to some sort of appointment/walk-up hybrid model. You can still triage doses but they need to be making sure they are maximizing the shots they can deliver in a day.

    Have a cancellation/no-show and not making up for it should be seen as wasteful as letting a doses expire.

  5. @AdamH and Gary are so right. Scientists did a great job of developing the vaccines, but neither they nor governments are logistics experts. Maybe hire AdamH as vaccine distribution czar.

    My state got off to such a slow start because they divided people into too many categories and you can’t get a shot until the people in the categories ahead of yours are done. So it became a plodding, hit and miss process of chasing after each group in turn. It’s possible to be placed on a waiting list for a short-notice call at the end of the day. My sister, who is likely about six weeks away from her category’s turn, signed up with every possible outlet for that, and sure enough, got a call from the local homeless shelter the other day to come in and get her Moderna.

    Yes, prioritize especially vulnerable people by setting up “elite” lanes like when boarding an aircraft, but also focus on getting as many doses as possible into arms as quickly as possible.

    But Gary, the people who buy their way to the front of the line in a plan like Lufthansa’s really aren’t opening up any more vaccines for others. Those Russian vaccines wouldn’t be going to waste, but would be going into some Russian’s arm instead.

  6. “Germany is ‘facing a chronic shortage of any vaccine at all'”?

    Last I heard is that they had around a million extra doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine around and were having trouble getting takers fast enough to run down the AZ vaccine supply. And the situation with having extra AZ vaccines around Germany was such that there was a push to get the German Chancellor to get vaccinated with the AZ vaccine to try to deal with the AZ vaccine supply sent out but not being taken up. Merkel is 66 years old and thus giving her the AZ vaccine would not be in line for her since the AZ vaccine is not yet approved for people who are more than 65 years of age.

  7. Sorry, but they’re not vaccines. From the CDC.

    “”Vaccine: A product that stimulates a person’s immune system to produce immunity to a specific disease, protecting the person from that disease. Vaccines are usually administered through needle injections, but can also be administered by mouth or sprayed into the nose.”

    “Immunity: Protection from an infectious disease. If you are immune to a disease, you can be exposed to it without becoming infected.

    These injections are not vaccines. They do not prevent infection, they do not render you immune, and they do not prevent transmission of the disease. Neither Moderna nor Pfizer claim this to be the case for their COVID-19 “vaccines.” In fact, in their clinical trials, they specify that they will not even test for immunity.

  8. “Germany is “facing a chronic shortage of any vaccine at all” ”
    Not true, Astrazeneca shots are more than enough. Another delivery of 3m doses are on their way to Germany this week.

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