Rich Britons 'offering to pay £2,000 to private doctors to skip COVID vaccine queue'

Ross McGuinness
·3-min read
Nurse Pat Sugden prepares the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine at the Thackray Museum of Medicine in Leeds, the first UK museum to host a COVID-19 vaccination centre, as BioNTech boss Ugur Sahin says he is confident vaccine will work on UK variant.
The Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is only available to NHS patients. (PA)

Wealthy Britons are offering to pay up to £2,000 to private clinics to skip the UK’s coronavirus vaccine queue, it has been reported.

People have contacted private doctors and offered thousands of pounds in an effort to get their vaccinations early, the Sunday Times said.

The only way to receive the Pfizer/BioNTech jab is through the NHS, where it is being administered to those most in need of it, but that hasn’t stopped people trying to buy their way around the waiting list.

On Monday, a leading scientist warned that herd immunity against coronavirus from a vaccine may not be achieved until next summer.

Hospital admissions from coronavirus have reached the level of the first peak in April, as one ambulance service reported Boxing Day was one of its “busiest ever days”.

Watch: AstraZeneca teases ‘winning formula’ for Oxford COVID jab

On Monday, cabinet minister Michael Gove refused to rule out putting the whole of England under Tier 4 restrictions.

Private clinics have reported daily inquiries from those willing to pay four-figure sums to have the vaccine ahead of schedule.

Dr Roshan Ravindran, owner of Klnik, a private clinic in Wilmslow, Cheshire, told the newspaper: “I had someone say, ‘I’ll give you £2,000 for the vaccine’.

“People inquiring of it often have had a relative who has passed away — the virus hasn’t been selective.

“The poor and rich have all been affected and all lacked control. And so now what people are looking for is a degree of control.”

However, he told the Sunday Times he has been informing wealthy patients they will just have to wait like everyone else.

“It’s priceless,” he said. “I have people with almost infinite money, who would do anything because they’ve had relatives pass away with COVID.”

Britons can get an idea of when they will receive the vaccine by using an unofficial online calculator that was published earlier this month.

The UK government ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, enough to vaccinate 20 million people as it comes in two doses.

It was reported on Sunday that the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency is expected to approve the Oxford University/AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine some time this week.

While the government has purchased all doses of the vaccine, it is predicted that a jab could become available privately within the next six months.

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Dr Ravindran said he feared some clinics may charge as much as £20,000 for a vaccination when that happens.

Dr Mark Ali, medical director of the Private Harley Street Clinic, said his practice is also taking calls every day from people who want to buy the COVID vaccine.

He told the Sunday Times: “It is important that elderly and vulnerable people receive the vaccine first.

“But once that process is up and running, private practice may have a crucial part to play in mass rollout.

“We already see with the flu vaccine, company schemes can vaccinate large numbers of employees privately and take a burden off the NHS.”

Watch: Billions provided for vaccine rollout