Thursday 28 Jan 2021

Covid tourism: Travel company promises 'VVIP' Indians vaccine package in the US

With multiple vaccines poised to hit the market, many businesses are hitching wagons to the demand for the vaccine and devising innovative ways to make money amid a crisis

| NOVEMBER 24, 2020, 11:37 PM IST
Covid tourism: Travel company promises 'VVIP' Indians vaccine package  in the US

The coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we shop and today, the product most in demand across the world market is the coronavirus vaccine. After months of labouring and hard work by scientists across the world, people are finally breathing a sigh of relief with multiple Covid-19 vaccines successfully crossing the testing phase.

While Pfizer-BioNtech and Moderna's coronavirus vaccines have claimed over 90 per cent effectiveness, newly tested Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine recently showed 70 per cent effectiveness in Phase 3 of testing.

Good news as it may be, none of the vaccines have as yet been tested 100 per cent successful and new breakthroughs are being achieved everyday. For some businesses and marketers, however, the coronavirus vaccine has meant not just a boon to save human lives but also a tool to milk money out of gullible people.

After 1.4 million worldwide deaths, people are desperate for a vaccine. And some marketers are preying on people's vulnerabilities and concerns with a new and bizarre trend that many are now calling "vaccine tourism".

On Monday, Edelweiss Mutual Funds CEO Radhika Gupta took to Twitter to share a screenshot of a WhatsApp message that has been circulating. The message was seemingly from a travel company which was offering a rather lucrative and forward-thinking tour package to the United States in December as soon the Pfizer vaccine hits the American market. The three days and four nights package from Mumbai to New York and then back to Mumbai would cost you Rs 1,74,999 which includes airfair and hotel stay.

"Be among the first to get Corona Vaccine: As soon as Pfizer Vaccine is officially published to sell America (tentative date 11 December), we are ready to get it done for select few VVIP clients..." the travel operator said in its package details through WhatsApp messages.

Macabre and insensitive as it is, the advertisement is not surprising. 

The travel firm is pitching the package on the back of pharma major Pfizer Inc and German partner BioNTech SE's coronavirus vaccine that showed 95% efficacy in preventing covid-19 with no major safety concerns. Pfizer has already applied to US health regulators for emergency use authorization of its covid-19 vaccine.

With the coronavirus vaccine becoming the most wanted commodity yet to arrive in 2020, the world is bursting with enthusiasm and anticipation. But while developing a vaccine was primarily the role of the scientific community, ensuring its equal distribution to all people across countries and the world is the role of world governments and civil society.

India has also been testing vaccines at home, with at least five vaccine candidates currently undergoing human trials. 

On Tuesday, India's Health Minister Harsh Vardhan claimed Indian may not need Pfizer's vaccine at all as several Indian contenders such as Covaxin, Zy-CovD awaiting Phase 2 trial results.

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