Coronavirus pandemic | FM Sitharaman announces Rs 50 lakh insurance for every health worker

This is expected to benefit 22 lakh beneficiaries handling the COVID-19 crisis across India

March 26, 2020 / 04:44 PM IST

Finance minister Nirmala Sitharaman, on March 26, announced a Rs 50 lakh insurance cover per person for frontline health workers involved in managing the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

"The medical insurance scheme would  include sanitation staff, doctors, Asha workers, paramedics and nurses. These professionals are not considering their own health risks and have been attending to Coronavirus patients," she added.

A government document said that any health professional who while treating COVID-19 patients meets with some accident, then he/she would be compensated with an amount of Rs 50 lakh under the scheme.

Safai karamcharis, ward-boys, nurses, paramedics, technicians, doctors and specialists and other health would be covered by this special insurance scheme.

All government health centres, wellness centres and hospitals of Centre as well as States would be covered under this scheme approximately 22 lakh health workers would be provided insurance cover to fight this pandemic.

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How does a vaccine work?

A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.

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There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.

What does it take to develop a vaccine of this kind?

Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.

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Here, Asha workers refer to community health worker instituted by the  Ministry of Health and Family Welfare as a part of the National Rural Health Mission.

Frontline workers working across hospitals with COVID-19 positive patients are the most at risk of contracting the illness. The Rs 50 lakh cover per person is expected to benefit such individuals and will help them in case they are exposed to the virus.

Also read: Live updates on Coronavirus pandemic

It is likely that any of these health workers diagnosed as COVID-19 positive will be eligible to get claims under the Rs 50 lakh insurance cover. Claims settlement is also expected to be instant in case any individual faces any untoward accident during the treatment process.

This is part of a slew of measures announced by the finance minister under the Pradhan Mantri Garib Kalyan Package on March 26 to deal for health workers, labourers, people below the poverty line and daily-wage earners under the scheme.

This is to help economically and socially disadvantaged communities to tide over the COVID-19 crisis where companies have announced a lockdown to prevent the virus spread.

While the modalities are yet to be announced, it is announced that any health workers who is currently working across the hospitals in India will get access to the Rs 50 lakh cover. The government will bear the premium costs.

India has 649 reported positive COVID-19 cases so far with 13 deaths. In Delhi, a Mohalla clinic doctor has tested positive after which 800 people were quarantined.

The government has already clarified that COVID-19 related hospitalisation expenses will be covered under the Ayushman Bharat scheme which provides Rs 5 lakh of medical cover per family per year. This scheme covers deprived families in rural and urban areas.

 
Moneycontrol News
first published: Mar 26, 2020 01:38 pm

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