With reports that Knightsbridge Circle is now offering its members luxury ‘vaccine package holidays’, the dawn of the Vaccine VIP has truly arrived. Olivia Palamountain reports
As predicted by Globetrender in its 2021 Travel Trend Forecast, the rich and powerful are buying their way to the front of the vaccine queue in a morally-questionable move that is creating a new breed of elite traveller.
Dubbed “Vaccine VIPs” (a term coined by Globetrender), this privileged sector of society is being catered to by the likes of travel and lifestyle management company Knightsbridge Circle, which is now offering its members luxury vaccine package holidays to Dubai.
Knightsbridge Circle is a “by invitation only” tribe of just 50 people who pay £25,000 each per year for the club’s “unique and tailored 24/7 service” that facilitates extraordinary experiences, seamlessly arranged – from organising lunch with the Pope to flying a family cat to the Bahamas amidst a pandemic.
Knightsbridge Circle found Stuart McNeill has been managing requests for first dibs on the vaccine since the news broke.
Today his clients can board a private jet to Dubai where they will receive the vaccine, stay in a luxury apartment for 21 days before receiving a booster jab, then fly home – all for the princely sum of circa £40,000.
Isn’t international travel currently banned from the UK? Yes, unless you have a business reason for doing so, something that wealthy people with an international lifestyle are likely to be able to produce.
Work and pensions secretary Thérèse Coffey has admitted that the UK Government is not in position to stop private vaccine purchases. McNeill’s supplies of the Pfizer and Sinopharm vaccines come from India and the UAE, with Morocco potentially next in line.
Writing about the effects of the vaccine hierarchy in The Daily Mail, Janet Street Porter says: “Like everything in life, the combination of scarcity and anxiety will lead to queue jumping by the rich and well-connected,” and describes Stuart McNeill as “completely unrepentant”, while the entrepreneur claims he is a “pioneer” promoting a new form of luxury travel.
“Dubai and Abu Dhabi are already offering private appointments for the Pfizer vaccine. About 20 per cent of our clients have opted to fly out and get it. Dubai is also currently quarantine-free for British arrivals so most are relaxing on the beach in the weeks between their first and second dose,” Mr McNeill told The Telegraph.
Although it is not currently possible to purchase the Pfizer vaccine privately in Britain, McNeill said it was likely that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine would be more readily available to individuals. “We have a team of GPs waiting to administer it,” he added.
The Telegraph has also reported on the high-profile Britons who have already received the jab, including Sir Tom Jones and Ian McKellen (both in their 80s, they were vaccinated in line with the Government’s roll-out plans), while Russia’s state broadcaster reports that American film director Oliver Stone, who won an Academy Award as a writer for Midnight Express, received a coronavirus shot in Russia in early December. The 74-year-old took the Sputnik V vaccine despite Russia’s roll-out not covering his age group.
“I got a vaccine a few days ago. I don’t know if it’ll work but I heard good things about the Russian vaccine,” Mr Stone reportedly said. The shot is still being trialled to ensure it is safe, although President Putin’s daughter has reportedly had the jab.
In the months to come, we can also expect Vaccine VIPs to be heading to countries such as India for the jab, which is already offering it through private clinics for as little as US$8. As the Financial Times reports: “Serum Institute of India, the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, has a licence to produce the shot and has already manufactured 40m doses.
“Once the jab is approved for use, Serum will initially supply the Indian government but then expects to sell 20 million-30 million doses to private facilities, according to Adar Poonawalla, chief executive.”