How best to describe vaccine pre-orders? "Hoarding" or "Funding"

Various phrases have been dreamed up to describe the practice of many western countries - especially those with large pharmaceutical industries - of pre-ordering doses of COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccine nationalism is one. Others sometimes refer to the practice as "vaccine hoarding". This is deeply problematic. It is talking as if the vaccines are there, on the shelf. Graphs showing vaccine capacity and comparing that to the level of pre-orders (such as in this article) fail to adequately explain the cause and effect relationship between these two factors.

Consider the risks - there are many promising candidates and pathways to a vaccine, but the odds are, frankly, long. For the vaccine researcher huge sums of money must be spent in research, development, and testing. Yet without a pre-booked order for the vaccine, this may all be lost - not just by failure to make a viable and useful vaccine, but possibly by a more effective vaccine candidate coming on to the market, which is bought in preference. If you are conservatively managed business, perhaps, not unusually in a time of economic crisis, an eye on conserving capital, you may decide not to progress a vaccine option unless you were really confident about it. Yet the world needs the companies to take these risks. In fact, the more the better.

The scale of the cost (human and financial) of the pandemic is such that the value of effective vaccines is very, very large. By offering to pre-order doses governments are encouraging much more investment both in the science of researching vaccine and in the capacity to produce the vaccines. Turning back to the graph of capacity again and you can see the relationship between capacity and the size of the pre-orders. Far from reducing pre-orders, which would reduce the number of candidates advanced and the capacity to produce them, governments should increase pre-orders, to make it a better bet for teams to invest in the search - as argued by this article

International co-operation will be essential to any medium to long-term strategy with regard to COVID-19. It is truly a case of all being in this together - as, while there is a pool of infected people out there, reinfection could occur. However, it would be crazy for any government to lock themselves into a strategy right now. After all, so much is not known. The virus could mutate and fade away, or several good vaccines could be developed, or it takes a very long-time to develop a vaccine. Or a break through treatment is found - but no vaccine. Each might require substantially different implementation strategies. It seems best to wait and see how the situation develops before betting the farm on any particular approach.


Asteron Life offer customers access to updated Best Doctors, and more daily news

Asteron Life has announced that it will be offering customers the option to access medical advice online and over-the-phone. Eligible customers are those with an existing Asteron Life disability insurance, their children, partners, parents and parents-in-law can all access the service. Please refer to the table below on who are eligible and who are not.

Click here to register for a webinar on Best Doctors

On sale:

Personal Insurance Business Insurance Employee Insurance

Income Protection Cover

Mortgage and Living Cover

Workability Cover

Business Disability Cover

Farmers Disability Cover

Business Expenses Cover

Income Protection Cover

 

 

 

 

 

 

Off sale:

Qualifying legacy products Qualifying legacy covers

Income Protection (all versions)

Incomeplan

Key Person

Business Expenses

Personal Insurance:

  • Mortgage & Rent Cover

SmartLife:

  • Mortgage Protection Insurance - Disability

SmartBusiness:

  • Farmers Disability Cover
  • Business Expenses Cover

Smartplan:

  • Income Protection
  • Business Income Protection

Government talks about joining holistic health app trend

The New Zealand Government may be the latest entrant in the trend of holistic health apps which digitise healthcare in the age of Covid-19, Marc Daalder reports here. Although one aspect of the story is yet to be proven - the official COVID-19 contract tracing app does not have holistic health care features.

Should they decide to do so careful consideration of the feature set is critical. This is a difficult game to play, requiring a delicate balance on several dimensions. Motivation can be seen as nagging. Measurement could be seen as prying. Rewards can, from another point of view, be seen as penalties. Insurers at least can point to the freedom they allow clients: pick up the app if you like, if you prefer not, no problem. That's why government should avoid copying Vitality, Fitbit, and Sharecare. They should focus on doing the things that the market is not, such as online delivery of primary care. Digital delivery of some healthcare functions looks like an obvious way to save time, money, and deliver care to more people. It is certain to come. I've have online consultations myself in Northern Ireland for a sore throat. It saved loads of time and reduces exposure of other people to infection. More of this can happen to spread precious public health dollars further. 


DAILY NEWS: nib non-PHARMAC webinar and more

nib will be hosting a webinar on May 20, 2020, from 11:30 am – 12:15 pm. During the session, nib NZ CEO Rob Hennin, RMA Financial’s Shaun Vining, and nib Customer Care team leader Hannah Larking will be sharing their experiences on non-PHARMAC drugs and the importance of including them in medical policies.

"Join our webinar where we’ll be focusing on why cover for treatment with non-PHARMAC drugs is so important for your clients. We’ll be bringing you the insights of adviser, Shaun Vining, and nib Customer Care Team Leader, Hannah Larking. There will be opportunity to discuss why it’s so important your clients have health insurance with non-PHARMAC cover." Click here to register

in other news:

OUT NOW: ASSET May issue

Australia: Signature scandal puts more pressure on AMP's battle-weary management

Wealthpoint: Wealthpoint advisers ‘cautiously optimistic’

Finzo: Finzo develops 360 integrated solution

Brokers with no BCP urged to make one, ASAP


Medical / health insurance pricing comparison database updated

Medical /Health Insurance pricing comparison database V79 has now been issued to subscribers. This version includes the following changes:

  • Update Southern Cross rates effective 1/3/20
  • Update nib rates effective 1/4/20
  • Update Partners Life rates (including policy fee) effective 5/4/20

COVID-19 and the implications for health and longevity

It has long been reported that New Zealanders have high life expectancy. We know the leading causes of health loss, but we do not know how severely COVID-19 will affect the the health of New Zealanders.

A good view of mortality data (note: written about 36 hours ago, as things are changing fast) is available in this Brookings Institute data. https://www.brookings.edu/blog/future-development/2020/03/23/a-mortality-perspective-on-covid-19-time-location-and-age/ 

Age and underlying health conditions are major factors in the case fatality rate, which also makes the underlying health of New Zealanders a subject of great interest right now.

Below are images from the Health and Independence 2017 report that illustrates causes of health loss and the number of years New Zealanders are living in poor health. 

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Day of week of procedure and 30 day mortality for elective surgery: retrospective analysis of hospital episode statistics

The objective of this study was to assess the association between mortality and the day of elective surgical procedure. The conclusion suggests a higher risk of death for patients who have elective surgical procedures carried out later in the working week and at the weekend, than those who have it done earlier in the week. 


Bowel cancer is killing 1,200 Kiwis a year

Accuro are offering free bowel screening kits to members to assist in early detection of the disease, with their acting CEO Gavin Rutherford saying "The problem is that many insurers do not engage with their members until after they have been diagnosed,"

Currently NZ's National Bowel Screening Programme aim to invite 700,00 people for free bowel screening by June 2021, but it is limited to those aged 60 - 74.

Click here to read more.