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IRDAI asks insurers to cover COVID-19 vaccination cost, GIC objects

The GIC, a statutory body which represents general and health insurers, said the insurance policies can cover only the hospitalisation costs related to COVID-19.

January 22, 2021 / 03:10 PM IST
Representative image: Reuters

Representative image: Reuters


The Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) is in favour of including the cost of COVID-19 vaccination under health insurance policies. The regulatory body has asked the service providers to cover the cost of immunisation against coronavirus, CNBC TV18 reported citing sources.

The General Insurance Council (GIC) has objected to the IRDAI's decision, claiming that it may set a "wrong precedent", the channel reported.

The GIC, a statutory body which represents general and health insurers, said the insurance policies can cover only the hospitalisation costs related to COVID-19.

The Council has reportedly written to the IRDAI, marking its apprehensions against the proposal. The GIC has stated in its letter that it is "not inclined to cover COVID vaccination cost", the report said.

The insurance sector watchdog, on January 13, recommended general and health insurers to ink agreements with health providers on cost of COVID-19 treatment, similar to the policy for other diseases, PTI had reported.

"While entering into such agreements, the reference rate of GI (general insurance) council can be kept in view for guidance alongwith rates fixed by State Governments and Union Territory administration, if any and as relevant," the IRDAI circular had stated.

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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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