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From vaccination to COVID-care centres, IT firms step up employee support amidst deadly second wave

As people struggle to find ICU beds and oxygen supply, Infosys, HCL Tech and Tech Mahindra are setting up COVID-19 care centres for employees, where they and their families can get medical care beyond home quarantine; companies pledge vaccination drive

April 27, 2021 / 01:45 PM IST
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India’s most famous industry is doing its bit in the fight against coronavirus.

From converting campuses to COVID-19 wards, to tying up with more hospitals and labs for testing and vaccination of staff, IT firms have stepped up employee support as the second wave of the pandemic ravages the country.

Companies like InfosysHCL Tech and Tech Mahindra are setting up COVID-19 care centres for employees, where they and their families can get medical care beyond home quarantine, as people struggle to find ICU beds and oxygen supply.

COVID care centres

During the earnings call on April 23, VV Apparao, Chief Human Resources Officer, HCL Tech, said, “Considering that in this second wave cases are much more than it was in first, many people are struggling for oxygen support or bed facilities in various hospitals. Currently it is very serious in the National Capital Region (NCR) and experts are predicting that the other states will face similar severity.”

COVID-19 Vaccine

Frequently Asked Questions

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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.

How many types of vaccines are there?

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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India recorded 3.52 lakh news cases and 2,812 deaths on April 25 with the healthcare system crumbling in many states.

“We are setting up 30 bed quarantine centres with oxygen support and ambulances with ventilator support in the NCR,” he said.

Earlier, the company as a part of CSR activity had donated ventilators to a few governments. “In turn we have agreements to provide ventilators to our people. So we are also scaling up, creating beds for our employees and families and ensuring that they get the right medication and oxygen supply,” he added.

In addition, the company is also expanding its COVID-19 helpline it was running with 15 doctors in 2020 to 25. “In the next week to 10 days’ time, we are further increasing it. We will be running with almost 55 doctors,” Apparao pointed out. It has also provided testing free of cost to employees.

According to him, this will provide huge help to their employees and families, who are affected. “We want to keep our employees safe and we don’t want anyone to suffer for the want of money. So we have not rejected any request from them,” he added.

Its Bengaluru-based peer, Infosys, too has set up employee COVID-19 care centres to support staff and their families who have contracted the virus and are in need of special medical care beyond home quarantine.

In a statement to Moneycontrol, the company said, “These centres would be managed by Ruby Hall hospital for Pune, and Manipal Hospitals for Bengaluru. Infosys is also in the process of setting up similar care centres across its major offices in India.”

In addition, Infosys has tied-up with COVID testing labs across the country. The company said that it has collaborated with emergency ambulance providers in every major city, and partnered with 1,490 hospitals in 242 cities in India, to enable treatment for its employees and their family members.

“COVID-19 related medical treatments are covered under group employee insurance, at Infosys. Employees who have contracted or recovering from COVID are given 21 days of additional paid leave by the company, and frequent safety checks are conducted while extending all support measures,” the company said.

CP Gurnani, CEO & Managing Director, Tech Mahindra, during an earnings call on April 27 said, “Earlier we said work from anywhere, now we are saying COVID-19 care from our facilities. So we are working with existing hospitals to convert some of our facilities into extended medical care facilities.”

Vivek Agarwal, President – BFSI, HLS and Corporate Development, explained: “Right now for the COVID care set up, we are thinking about 45-50 beds in our office premises, starting with Noida. We have tied up with large hospitals that will bring in the expertise and we will provide space and physical infrastructure. Our intention is to roll out at other large locations across the country to provide care to employees, families and larger societies.”

Vaccination camps

Earlier, IT majors announced that they would be covering vaccination costs for employees and their families. The inoculation camps will be organised in their campuses in partnership with hospitals.

So far companies like TCS, Infosys, Wipro, HCL Tech, Accenture, Capgemini, Tech Mahindra and tech major SAP Labs have announced they will be vaccinating all their employees and their families.

Swathi Moorthy
first published: Apr 27, 2021 01:45 pm