In converted trade-fair halls, the first people are getting vaccinated against Covid-19. (Photo: Alamy)
There is virtually no other location that describes the reality of the current situation better than this repurposed trade-fair hall. Where normally companies from all over the world come together in order to showcase their rich array of products or services, several hundred people took their places on chairs this particular Monday – dressed up warmly in anoraks and woolly hats – waiting until it was their turn to be vaccinated against Covid-19. And in the thick of it: Inga Goetze. The young junior doctor is one of around a dozen doctors who will be vaccinating at pace more than 700 people at a German vaccination centre on this day – people who have been classified as especially vulnerable.
Service on a volunteer basis
Inga Goetze already volunteered in spring of last year. This was at a time when it wasn’t even clear that a vaccine would be available. “I really feel that I need to get involved,” she said. “This is an emergency and I was looking for some way to be of assistance.”
She’s not one for fame and fortune, and she therefore didn’t want to tell her story using her real name, about how she came to be sitting there in her booth. Ceiling lighting illuminated the exhibition hall. She waited behind a Plexiglass shield wearing an FFP2 mask with hand sanitiser and disinfection spray at the ready. On this particular day, she had been allocated to advisory consultations that anybody waiting for the vaccine is able to have before they actually receive the jab. People have lots of questions: How does the vaccine work? Can the rapid development be trusted? And is it really a vaccine or actually something else? The myths from social networks also come home to roost in Inga Goetze’s booth.
HDI provides insurance cover for work administering vaccines
The 35-year-old is insured with HDI for her work at the vaccination centre. Like so many other doctors in Germany. HDI currently has more than 125,000 contracts in the area of professional liability for medical practitioners – that’s around one third of all doctors in Germany. HDI has market leadership in the area of practice-based doctors.
Doctors are covered by their professional liability insurance for giving vaccinations in their own practices. However, HDI has expanded existing cover for all doctors insured with them who do not have full-scale protection for professional liability – free of charge. This includes, for example, doctors employed in practices or hospitals, but also doctors coming out of retirement or on parental leave, who only have basic professional liability insurance. This additional cover enables them to work at a venue such as a vaccination centre. Indeed, all doctors can benefit from this cover, even if they haven’t been insured with HDI up to now. “We don’t want to leave doctors out in the cold,” commented Carsten Lutz, Head of Product Management for Liability and Healthcare. “Millions of people need to be vaccinated within a short space of time. In this situation, the country really needs everybody who is able to use a syringe.” A dozen vaccination and coronavirus test centres are currently also being provided with insurance cover from HDI.
Light at the end of the tunnel
The doctors are the final link in the vaccination chain that is provided with financial cover by the insurance sector. Without the backing of insurers, the pharmaceutical companies wouldn’t be able to develop vaccinations, test, store, sell or transport them – and doctors wouldn’t then be able to give any vaccinations. Or in a nutshell: The sector insures the hope of the pandemic coming to an end.
One of the areas where HDI Global assisted was by insuring clinical trials for the vaccinations. A further backstop is provided by governments covering vaccine-related risks. The pharmaceutical companies have insisted on countries participating in potential liability claims because the insurers would likely not be able to, or indeed want to, bear the risks engendered by side effects that might only come to light in many years’ time. Nevertheless, Talanx is here involved in a joint endeavour by the Group offering relatively easily quantifiable insurance cover, for example in relation to production faults associated with the vaccination.
Last year, the insurer primarily had a different focus. The Talanx Group leapt to the aid of its customers primarily to cushion the impacts of the coronavirus: dance studios, swimming baths and the hospitality industry in Germany received payments from business closure insurance, event organisers were paid financial compensation for cancelled events. Hannover Re provided compensation for losses caused by excess mortality rates in life reinsurance. In 2020, 1.5 billion euros were paid to customers of the Group as a consequence of claims payments made relating to the coronavirus. There will also be coronavirus losses this year. However, there is definitely light at the end of the tunnel.
Inga Goetze is part of the hope. Her first day at the vaccination centre simply flew by. “I started working at two o’clock in the afternoon and the first time I looked at my watch, it was already half past five in the evening. I was really surprised at how late it was,” she recounted. She lost track of the number of people she provided advice to. She alone assisted dozens of individuals. From time to time, she had some tough conversations. For example, if a spouse only becomes eligible weeks later because they are not part of the first group being vaccinated. “People are distraught because they are frightened that their partner will die,” said Inga Goetze. They simply don’t know how they are supposed to go on with their own lives at this age if their helping other half is no longer there. Listening, providing sympathy, presenting your human side. These attributes were all part and parcel of Inga Goetze’s first day at the vaccination centre. “It was a great feeling to be working there and providing assistance. Now there is an end to the pandemic in sight and I’ve been able to make a real contribution.”