Even if there’s an emergency use authorization for a vaccine in the U.S. in December it’s likely late in the second quarter before it’s available for most Americans. Will you wait until June for a vaccine, when you can get one somewhere else in the world if you have the ability to travel and the money to buy one?
The U.A.E. and Bahrain have given emergency use authorizations to the Sinopharm vaccine, which has already been given to hundreds of thousands of people in China. It’s an inactivated virus vaccine, which so far is reported to be safe and effective. It remains in stage 3 trials, but is being out to essential workers and is becoming increasingly available.
Meanwhile the E.U. has a lower effectiveness threshold than the FDA for approving a Covid-19 vaccine, so you might be able to hop across the Pond for the Astrazeneca vaccine before it’s available in the U.S. If you trust E.U. regulators on safety more than those in the U.A.E. you might take that shorter flight.
Tyler Cowen writes,
The regulations on these vaccines will be so new there are certain to be loopholes, so don’t think this is necessarily an illegal or black-market transaction. It is more akin to a grey market. There might be some legal risk, of course, and the higher it is, the higher the price will be to induce some sellers to divert supply.
…The U.S. itself might be on board with such an arrangement. If reasonable vaccines are approved in other countries first, American elites might start a revolt of sorts. Rather than fixing America’s cumbersome vaccine approval and distribution system, the federal government might find it easier to encourage an allied nation or two to offer their product to visiting Americans.
While there are restrictions on who is supposed to get the vaccine in Dubai, we have to bet that it’ll be available beyond the indicated population at some price. Or some developing countries within China’s sphere of influence might both promote tourism and vaccine sales to wealthy Americans. That both gives them hard currency and publicizes a Chinese win. Would you take a trip to Dubai to get a vaccine six months earlier?