Some are of the opinion that just anyone with the money to fly to Dubai, like Atiku, can get the coronavirus vaccine freely. That notion is wrong. As of now, the UAE is not offering vaccines to non-residents, including tourists.”
A commitment by pharmaceutical companies to sell their coronavirus vaccines only to governments, for now, means the drugs are not available on the open market or in private clinics where it can be accessed immediately by wealthy individuals.
Rich countries moved quickly to sign forward purchase agreements with suppliers and will reserve most of the vaccines that will be made this year. In the meantime, however, they have been forced to ration the limited quantities of jabs available immediately in public rollout schemes, with frontline healthcare workers exposed to the virus and aged people more likely to die if they are infected among those prioritised.
In essence, currently available vaccines are being distributed according to the medical perception of vulnerability to Covid-19 infection and death rather than purchasing power or regardless of how rich one is.
So recent reports of former Nigerian Vice President Abubakar Atiku getting vaccinated in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) generated a lot of conversations on social media this week.
Health authorities in the UAE in December launched a voluntary Covid-19 vaccination programme, offering all citizens and residents Sinopharm and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines for free should they wish to be inoculated. The country’s population is estimated at 9.8 million by the United Nations, and it is widely believed every person will get the vaccine under the government, which ranks highly on efficiency, compared to the United Kingdom for instance where it may take almost a year to get to everyone.
Starting out in Abu Dhabi early last month, the programme has since been extended to Dubai and the Northern Emirates as the government pushes for nationwide immunity against the novel coronavirus.
On Thursday, the presidential media team said via Twitter that the ex-vice president had received the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in Dubai, UAE.
“The importance of the #COVID19 vaccine in mitigating the effect of the coronavirus cannot be overstated, particularly in Africa and Nigeria. Yesterday (Wednesday), as part of the mass vaccination programme, His Excellency Atiku Abubakar received the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine,” Atiku’s spokesman said.
Meanwhile a wicked person told me that Nigerian big men are heading to Dubai this weekend to get vaccinated
— tyro (@DoubleEph) January 7, 2021
One big man don already collect vaccine in Dubai. It’s all over wozzap 🤣🤣🤣🤣
— A Fokken Queen 👸🏽👑 (@cremechic11) January 7, 2021
Why am I not surprised? No be dis owa Naija?
— Baba Alaje (@SunkanmiShams) January 7, 2021
Meanwhile, some are of the opinion that just anyone with the money to fly to Dubai, like Atiku, can get the coronavirus vaccine freely.
That notion is wrong, however. Checks reveal there are some criteria to meet before one can be vaccinated freely in the Arab country.
As of now, Dubai (and the UAE at large) is not offering vaccines to non-residents, including tourists. The target of the vaccination campaign are select UAE residents and Emiratis.
More so, like many other countries where mass vaccinations against the coronavirus are going on, the distribution is prioritised.
Eligibility norms stipulate that those being vaccinated in the first category are citizens and foreign residents above 60 years old, people of determination, and those with comorbidities.
The former VP Atiku is well over 60 – he clocked 74 last November – and most definitely has UAE citizenship having stayed in Dubai for several years. As a matter of fact, the former presidential aspirant and his team, in a bizarrely inept decision, ran the initial part of the campaign for the 2019 elections from Dubai, sharing pictures from opulent accommodation on social media in what turned out to be a big gift to the ruling party All Progressives’ Congress and now President Muhammadu Buhari.
In the second category are frontline healthcare workers, from both public and private sector, vital sector workers in the third, and anyone (resident and Emirati) who wishes to get vaccinated in the fourth category.