Sunday February 21, 2021
From vaccination prices to the black market
The questionable business with the corona syringe
For many people, it takes too long to wait for a corona vaccination in their own country. They use loopholes. Vendors advertise vaccination prices of up to 65,000 euros. Some trick themselves into getting a syringe or try to get a vaccine on the black market.
Hala Baidun actually only wanted to visit her sister in Dubai. But when their company in the Gulf metropolis invited them to the corona vaccination in January, the Lebanese woman spontaneously tried her luck. “They copied our passports, took our data, put them into the computer and vaccinated us.” The 50-year-old does not have a residence in Dubai, nor a passport from the United Arab Emirates. Apparently by lucky coincidence, Baidun received the vaccination that millions around the world are hoping for these days.
In some countries loopholes have opened up for those who want to leave the coronavirus, which has been raging for over a year, behind with the double syringe – and who would have to wait weeks or months in their home countries. People like Baidun, who slip through the grid and receive a vaccination that is otherwise only given to compatriots and local residents. Some elite circles and travel agencies also lure with the vaccine, questionable providers on the black market are pulling along.
A real vaccination tourism set in in Florida: In the US state, non-residents were able to get the vaccine at times, which is why not only wealthy visitors from New York and California soon turned up, but also rich Argentinians. According to reports, travelers from Brazil and Mexico were also drawn to Florida. Unfair, complained local residents about the pre-crowd from a distance.
The millionaire couple from Canada also caused outrage after they sneaked the syringe in a native settlement. The former head of a casino company and the actress traveled on a small plane to remote Yukon, where the two reportedly said they would work at a local inn in order to be vaccinated. But the deception was exposed.
With a private jet to the vaccination
Hala Baidun, who runs a bakery in Beirut, doesn’t have a bad aftertaste after being vaccinated in Dubai. “A country like the UAE wants everyone to be happy and to spend money,” she says. Such a rich state should also offer the vaccine to tourists.
The vaccination has come within reach especially for the particularly wealthy. The “Wall Street Journal” quoted a company in Canada whose customers requested day flights to Florida by private jet. Costs: Converted between 20,000 and 65,000 euros.
In Great Britain the exclusive “travel and lifestyle club” Knightsbridge Circle made a name for itself, whose members are supposed to pay the equivalent of around 28,000 euros per year. On offer are vaccination trips to the Emirates and India, reported the “Telegraph”. “We are booking (our members) a beautiful villa with a swimming pool, a cook and domestic staff,” said club founder Stuart McNeill. “They land, get their first vaccination, and wait for the second.” Some guests would stay in India the whole time, others would fly to Madagascar between the two injections. The club announced by email that due to a flood of inquiries, no new members were being accepted.
In India, travel agencies like Zenith Leisure Holidays Limited have been offering vaccination trips abroad for several weeks. Its boss, Manoj Mishra, states that he is satisfying two customer needs: a thirst for adventure and health. On colorful flyers, his company promises offers to Great Britain, Russia and the USA, depending on the budget. For the equivalent of around 2800 euros, you can go twice to London, including a four-star hotel, a visa, protective suits and disinfectants.
Cuba wants to offer vacations with vaccinations
Cuba has even announced that after the approval of the Cuban vaccine Soberana2, tourists will be able to get vaccinated on the Caribbean island. It is so far unclear whether holidaymakers will be asked to pay for it. However, the director of the vaccine developer Finlay, Vicente Vérez, said: “We are not a multinational company that is all about profit. Our goal is to ensure better health.” In the state media it was already said that foreigners could combine vacation and vaccination.
In most cases, however, there has been a catch: the Emirates no longer vaccinate tourists, as confirmed by the Ministry of Health there. The travel agency in India, which reports 800 pre-registrations on the Internet and 1,500 telephone inquiries from customers, has not yet received any approval from the countries concerned. When asked by the Guardian, the Knightsbridge Circle in London had to make it clear that only club members who are residents there (currently five people) can be vaccinated in the Emirates.
If you want to shorten the waiting time by other means, look on the black market. With the message service Telegram, users claim to sell Astrazeneca, Pfizer / Biontech and Moderna ampoules each for the equivalent of 125 to 183 euros including shipping – “ice-cold, double vacuum-sealed, with tracking number”, as it says there. In Germany, the number of Internet searches for terms such as “buy corona vaccine online” is also increasing.
The US-Israeli cybersecurity company Check Point found 340 vaccine offers on the Darknet in January; prices there have now risen to the equivalent of 820 euros. But: “In our experience, if you try to buy a single dose, it is likely that a buyer will not get anything at all.”