Friday, December 15, 2023

There's Money in Prevention

The insurance companies and finance mags are still openly discussing the problems with ongoing Covid, even if schools and hospitals aren't. Illness affects the bottom line!

Don't be surprised if you try to get insurance and they ask a lot of questions about whether you've had Covid, how many times, how recently, how much exposure you typically get in your workplace, and whether you have any lasting damage that requires treatment. And don't be surprised if your insurance is denied if you live or work in a way that significantly exposes you to getting Covid - like, maybe, you're a grade school teacher trying to get life insurance in case you die, leaving your partner to care for your children alone. 

Having Covid is a pre-existing condition that leads to many other conditions. 

They don't ask about your experiences with colds or flus because they don't lead to all sorts of illness down the road. 

Here's one form from an Australian insurance company

In the states, last April insurance companies noticed a "baffling" rate of excess mortality "even three years after the start of the Covid-19 pandemic," which they're studying in an industry coalition they're calling "the Collaboration". They appear, like the rest of us, to have been convinced that this was all over, so the continued deaths don't make sense in that context. But only in that very dubious context. 
"With excess morbidity comes excess losses for insurers that could be significantly quelled with digital screening and triage of policyholders. . . . The health screening, targeted blood testing, and intelligent use of data would save lives. . . . There is a small window of opportunity for insurers to get ahead of the excess mortality problems before it becomes a major financial problem for the industry. . . . It feels like there's problems with mortality, which I believe right now is a public health problem that can be addressed by insurance taking leadership. Longer term, there's the possibility of litigation from this is going to be bigger than things like asbestos was for the insurance industry. So, let's try to figure this out and solve this problem."
Whatever works, eh? 

Again, don't be surprised if you're denied insurance because you've had Covid a few times. It's not just a cold! But isn't it so peculiar that it's insurance companies here to save the day, to insist on testing and data collection, instead of maybe public health or hospitals or schools, which all seem absolutely data adverse because of what it might mean for them: they'd actually have to do something. and that would lead to complaints and outrage from a loud minority, and that's pretty annoying. Maybe people will be more careful if they know their blood test will prove, not just that they smoke more pot than they admitted to on the form, but that their blood is rife with microclots. It might be the only way people find out that Covid is harbouring in their system, quietly damaging their internal organs and precipitating an early death. 

And check out this ticketmaster caveat:

In the Harvard Business Review, Britta Domke recently wrote an excellent article prodding business leaders to take charge: (Summary and translation from here - the translated full article is at the very end of that thread.)
"With a few targeted measures, it's possible to make workplaces largely safe from coronavirus. . . . Researchers discovered that a SARS-CoV-2 infection substantially diminishes cognitive performance in those affected: Subjects processed visual information more slowly and experienced faster exhaustion compared to a similarly sized control group. We interpret this as evidence of chronically diminished brain activity in Long Covid, primarily manifesting as slowed information processing. . . . There is growing evidence that Long Covid's effects could have a more lasting impact on the economy than the lockdowns did. A virus that slows down cognitive processes, leading to persistently higher absenteeism and increased occupational disability, is a concerning prospect for the business world. . . . For many leaders, the continual cycle of sick leave may seem inevitable. However, they often fail to recognize that after four years of Covid-19, they possess the knowledge and resources to significantly safeguard workplaces against the virus. Like many other strategic decisions, this requires a fundamental directive from the top echelons of the company. . . .

There is money in prevention. Investing a moderate amount in protective measures now can lead to substantial long-term savings. . . . Assuming an average of 84 days of work incapacity per person and a daily production loss of 124 euros. This results in an annual production loss of 3.4 billion euros for businesses in Germany alone, with additional billions in costs to the health and pension systems. . . . Calculations are likely to be conservative estimates. . . . An online survey conducted in June 2022 reveals that participants suffering from Long Covid reported an average of 237 days of sick leave, amounting to 22,200 euros in work absence per person. Many of these individuals can no longer work at their previous capacity, contributing to the skilled labor shortage and additional recruiting costs. . . . The SARS-CoV-2 virus can damage the immune system even in mild cases, leading to a high level of sickness absenteeism as individuals contract multiple illnesses. . . . The 'immunity debt' theory as an explanation for post-lockdown illnesses has been debunked -- not least because such a concept does not exist in medical science. . . . 

'We estimate that one in ten infections leads to Post-Covid,' says Dr. Tedros. . . . This suggests that hundreds of millions of people might require long-term treatments. Long Covid is now considered a 'Mass Disabling Event,' triggering a significant global increase in diseases and disabilities. Nowadays, many people are contracting Covid-19 two to three times a year, with some experiencing up to half a dozen infections. Immunity is not reliably achieved through existing vaccines or past infections. . . . 21% of people infected with Corona at least once report suffering from Post- or Long-Covid illness. Younger, high-functioning individuals are particularly at risk, with 35% of 18- to 29-year-olds and 40% of 30- to 39-year-olds affected. Only some individuals fully recover from Long Covid, while most have lasting health limitations. There is no effective, recognized therapy for Long Covid, and some prescribed rehab measures can cause complete occupational disability. 

The Swiss Cheese Model, developed by psychologist James Reason, illustrates how multiple layers of protection can effectively decrease the probability of infection. Implementing a variety of protective measures in the workplace can significantly lower infection rates. Employers should be flexible with home office policies, as remote working can reduce the frequency of infections and prevent the spread of the virus in the workplace. Some employers pressure their staff to work even when infected, raising concerns about their duty of care towards uninfected employees. Employers should regularly update their risk assessments according to the current state of infections, possibly including entry bans for infected employees or mandatory high-quality masks in risk-prone settings. 

The effectiveness of FFP2 masks [N95s], initially questioned by a meta-study, has been confirmed by further research, including studies by the Max Planck Institute for Dynamics and Self-Organization. Coronavirus can linger in the air of enclosed spaces for hours, rendering standard social distancing measures insufficient for reducing infection risk. Leaders are advised to lead by example and conduct information campaigns to combat misinformation and encourage mask-wearing. Leaders should be cautious with their language, avoiding terms like 'during the Covid era' or 'after Covid,' which may imply that Covid-19 is no longer a concern. Leaders have a responsibility to support employees who choose to wear masks, recognizing it as a contribution to lower sickness rates and standing against any bullying. 

The use of air purifiers is recognized in various settings, including the World Economic Forum in Davos and within German state governments. In larger spaces like conference rooms, multiple air filters are necessary for effective purification, as shown by Professor Christian Kähler's experiment in a complexly structured restaurant, where filters reduced harmful particles by 75%. CO2 values are a reliable indicator of air quality; indoor levels should ideally be below 800 ppm to minimize health risks and infection chances. High-quality air filters in multi-person offices and communal areas can be a long-term investment, preventing infections and associated economic losses. Employers can facilitate access to booster shots, much like annual flu vaccination campaigns. Considering that around 40% of all Corona infections are asymptomatic, it's advised to implement rapid tests, air filters, and regular ventilation, especially for in-person meetings. 

The lifting of Covid measures brought a sense of relief, but has led to high sickness rates and productivity losses due to the ongoing impact of the virus. Companies face a choice: continue facing the consequences of a 'Mass Disabling Event' or actively protect their workforce, possibly until a vaccine providing sterile immunity is developed."

I am more than happy to let money and financial concerns be the thing that saves us. Something has to provoke a U-turn from just letting it rip. Capitalism could very well save the day after all!!

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