Momentum says its data is starting to show that Covid-19 vaccines play a huge role in preventing deaths – only 2 percent of coronavirus-related death claims in July and August were for fully vaccinated people. Almost R1 billion in death claims were paid out in those two months.
“We picked up that less than two out of every 100 of the lives lost were fully vaccinated. In other words, 98 percent of death claims were for unvaccinated or only partially vaccinated people,” said the head of Momentum Life Insurance Stephen van Niekerk.
The insurer pointed out that further evidence that the vaccine is working is glaring when one looks at claims it received from frontline healthcare professionals during the first wave of Covid-19 infections versus the third wave.
In the first wave, 8 percent of the Covid-19-related death claims that the insurer processed came from frontline healthcare professionals. After health professionals began getting their jabs in February, their share of Covid-19 death claims decreased to 2 percent in the third wave.
Under the income-protection products, which caters for temporary illness, almost 60 percent of Covid-19-related claims Momentum paid during the first wave came from healthcare professionals. This reduced to around 30 percent during the third wave.
The insurer said its claims experience to date suggest that people who are not vaccinated are 50 times more likely to die from Covid-19 than fully vaccinated people.
“With the efficacy of vaccines not at 100 percent, it is possible that as the pandemic continues, there may be more death claims from vaccinated people. However, we would like to stress that based on our experience, the risk of severe illness, hospitalisation and ICU care, and death is significantly less in fully vaccinated people,” added Van Niekerk.
Why Momentum is avoiding mandatory vaccination of employees
Although Momentum Metropolitan Holdings has publicly stated numerous times that it unequivocally supports vaccinations and runs five mass vaccination sites in place across South Africa, the group’s CEO Hillie Meyer recently told Fin24 that the insurer won’t force staff to take jabs.
On Tuesday, Van Niekerk explained that the company believes that its employees will be responsible and make the right choices as they see and experience the devastating effect of Covid-19.
Even though almost 30 percent of its staff on Momentum Health medical aid is not yet vaccinated, Van Niekerk said the group is not taking a hard line because legally, people have the right to object against vaccinations for religious, constitutional rights or health reasons.
“Even those companies who decided to force their staff will still have to accommodate this group,” he said.
He said because the insurer has decided that about 30 percent to 40 percent of its staff will work from home on a rotation basis in the future, these groups can be accommodated. But the protocols will be influenced by the kind of job the person does.
“Staff members who work with clients, a walk-in client service consultant, an adviser or travelling nurse present a risk to other staff or clients when they are not vaccinated, and we will in these instances have to make vaccination a requirement. On the other hand, roles that are permanently remote will have less stringent protocols and will be handled on a case-by-case basis,” said Van Niekerk.