I think everyone’s ready to get back to normal after 2020 and a rocky start to 2021. Vaccines hold that promise, but the rollout is slow. And those with the means will go to lengths to accelerate their shots. That’s why I wrote back in November that I expected vaccine tourism to become a trend in early 2021. Last month we started to see travel agencies advertising vaccine tourism packages. And now trips are actually happening.
Concierge service Knightsbridge Circle in the U.K. is offering members trips to both the United Arab Emirates and India for vaccinations.
“It’s very exciting to say that we can offer the vaccine now,” says founder Stuart McNeill. “We’ve been proactive in offering it to all of our existing members.”
And the inoculations are already well underway, with members based both in the UK and abroad flying out for vaccination holidays, many on private jets. “It’s like we’re the pioneers of this new luxury travel vaccine programme.
You go for a few weeks to a villa in the sunshine, get your jabs and your certificate and you’re ready to go,” says McNeill, who assumes that many such members have flown out under the business/education trip exemption.
So far they’ve offered the Pfizer and Sinopharm vaccines in the U.A.E., and have now launched India vaccinations. They are also setting up Marrakech, where they’ve arranged to transport AstraZeneca shots from India. Some participants stay in-country between shots while others come and go. Total cost for the trip can be up to $55,000 including first class accommodations and flights. The Concierge service charges around $35,000 a year for membership.
People are so tired of lockdowns one woman tried to escape curfew by putting a leash on her husband and taking him for a walk since they didn’t have a dog. (Earlier this year people in Spain were renting out their dogs for 20 euros an hour because dog walking allowed people to leave their homes, the dogs were exhausted.)
China’s Sinopharm vaccine and Oxford-AstraZeneca aren’t as effective in Phase 3 trials as Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna (though they’re more effective than Sinovac’s). You might expect some people to weigh waiting for one of the more effective mRNA vaccines against early access to one that’s reported to be somewhat less effective. But remember that the AstraZeneca shot reported 100% effectiveness at avoiding hospitalization and that’s probably the most important metric. And with the pandemic raging on both sides of the Pond, and fears heightened by new more transmissible strains, why wait?
Now, some will wonder whether this is ethical. After all, doesn’t taking a dose as a vaccine tourist take away a dose from someone else? The concierge service says they haven’t arranged vaccination for anyone under 65 but let’s leave that aside. More money can expand capacity for vaccine production. Selling vaccines is one way to make it possible to vaccinate more people.
(HT: Paddle Your Own Kanoo)