Two months ago I wrote that I expected vaccine tourism to become a trend in early 2021. The Chinese Sinopharm vaccine appears safe and is reportedly 79% effective. It’s approved now for general use in both the U.A.E. and China.
Between the BBIBP-CorV vaccine from state-owned Sinopharm and two other candidates, China has already vaccinated 4.5 million people. Dubai’s ruler took the BBIBP-CorV vaccine back on November 3.
While receiving the COVID-19 vaccine today. We wish everyone safety and great health, and we are proud of our teams who have worked relentlessly to make the vaccine available in the UAE. The future will always be better in the UAE. pic.twitter.com/Rky5iqgfdg
— HH Sheikh Mohammed (@HHShkMohd) November 3, 2020
The U.K. has already approved the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, though approval across Europe isn’t expected until at least February and it’s not expected to be approved in the U.S. until at least April. The U.K. is looking to vaccinate as many people as possible, following a ‘first dose’ strategy “to give at-risk groups one shot of vaccine, even if it means delaying the second dose.”
U.S. vaccinations have been slower than expected. A neighboring county to me in Texas got the vaccine December 23rd, and then closed down for Christmas. The U.S. declined to purchase doses of the Pfizer vaccine for the second quarter of 2021 that will now go to other countries instead. That makes the case for going abroad to get access to a shot. Early access in China runs $600 – $1500.
Efficacy in the mid-90% range for Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech may argue for waiting for one of those shots, but with likely increased transmissibility of the B.1.1.7 variant of the virus it may not make sense to wait.
The U.S., though, is in a favored position with vaccines relative to much of the world. We aren’t vaccinating anywhere close to as quickly as Israel, but not only are the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech mRNA vaccines available there are other candidates in the pipeline as well including Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose shot which should read out in a matter of weeks followed by data from Novavax trials.
I had somehow missed that travel agencies in India have been publicly marketing vaccine packages with travel to the U.K., U.S., and Russia for the Gamaleya Research Institute Sputnik V vaccine.
Travel agencies such as Zenith Holidays in Kolkata, Gem Tours & Travels in Mumbai and Chariot World Tours in Bengaluru confirmed that they are formulating such tour packages, which could even include the vaccine cost.
…The tour operators are confident that they can arrange for the vaccine.
Atmanand Shanbhag, chairman of Chariot World Tours, claimed to have “strong contacts” in the UK who have told him that the vaccine will be made available for foreigners by mid-March in 2021.
Chariot World Tours plans a 4-5 night package from Bangalore to London for $1765 including vaccine, though they’d be on their own to either stay in London or return for the AstraZeneca second dose.
Meanwhile Gem Tours & Travels, which is planning New York vaccine trips, claims to have coined the term ‘vaccine tourism’ and Zenith Holidays has promoted a London stay long enough for both vaccine doses at $8211 per person single occupancy ($6158 per person based on double occupancy) and expects that “by mid-January next year, the vaccine will be available for foreigners in the UK.”
(HT: Marginal Revolution)