The news today that the Oxford vaccine will be rolled out from next week in the UK has to be good for insurers. Commercial policyholders with several staff sharing office/shop space and rest room facilities can work out a plan towards getting back to semi-normal. Things to consider may be issues like making proof of vaccine a contractual requirement for staff to enter the building, and whether that leaves directors or the company open to legal action in the future under Human Rights legislation. Perhaps encouragement will win hearts and minds over coercion?
It is a difficult call for underwriters in terms of assessing risk on 2021 sporting and leisure events too, as the general health of staff and visitors needs to be balanced against the freedom that citizens currently have to choose whether to have vaccines. Then there’s the problem of allergies. Do you ultimately segregate those who cannot take the vaccine due to potential allergic reactions, or even deny them the right to attend a sporting or cultural event by setting particular T&Cs regarding the event insurance?
Glastonbury is a classic case where the risk of an outbreak is impossible to manage due to the numbers involved, so who ultimately underwrites the risk and sets out what must be done as regards vaccine checks, or do we simply ask ticket buyers to tick a box saying they have had the vaccine when they buy online? Which means everyone will tick the box anyway…
The good news about the Oxford vaccine is that it does not need to be stored at -70 degrees, plus it’s cheaper, so it offers wider scope on rapid roll-out via GPs, health centres, pharmacies, or perhaps Covid testing stations. The bad news with ALL vaccines is that it DOES NOT stop you getting Covid at some point in the future, as the UK government website reluctantly admits – we just don’t know if immunity will last for years, or Covid will return every winter in a milder form.
In the end, as IE has noted, we will all have to learn to live with this virus, because neither politicians or science can defeat it. At some point economic and social life must return to normal and the NHS must begin to open its doors, or thousands will die from undiagnosed conditions and delayed treatments.
Matthew Fell, CBI Chief UK Policy Director, said:
“Approval of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine is hugely positive news, and a real feather in the cap for the UK life sciences sector. It adds another weapon to the UK’s pandemic arsenal, bringing us one step closer to returning to a more normal way of life.
“This is not the end of the battle, though. Rising infection rates and new strains mean tough precautions remain necessary in the short-term. Businesses understand this and continue to do their utmost to protect their staff and customers.
“In turn, Government must continue to do all it can to protect businesses. It must ensure ongoing restrictions are grounded in evidence, continue to roll out an improved testing regime which will enable more parts of the economy to reopen safely, and ensure financial support for the hardest-hit sectors remains in place until the pandemic is past.”