COVID-19 blog

As key COVID updates become more frequent, we will be updating this page on a regular basis.


Podcast: Talking Heads – Safeguarding employee health and wellness

Lucie McGrath leads an interview with Cliff Bucknall, the Chief Medical Officer for HCA UK, and Claire Dunsterville, Director of Rehabilitation Services at The Wellington Hospital in London. They discuss the impacts of COVID-19, ‘Long COVID’ and the UK vaccination programme on overall health & wellbeing for individuals and employers.


What the Coronavirus Act means to you

The Coronavirus Act 2020 means that many insurers now request supporting information in an electronic format (such as photocopies or e-forms) instead of the actual document. This flexibility aids both the insurer in the delivery of their processes as well as making it easier for customers at this time. For example, when making a claim, many insurers will now accept an electronic copy where they had previously insisted on a ‘wet signature’. If you are at all unsure what’s required by your insurer, or would like further information around the claim process, please do let us know.


Mitigate pricing uncertainty

Group Risk rates look set to rise as a result of the current economic, environmental and market conditions, across a range of employee benefits. Businesses face uncertainty with the future pricing of their risk benefits policies. With more focus and a strain on cashflow and budgeting, now could be the time to seek out an alternative solution to mitigate both short and long term increases and lock in a new deal for an extended guarantee period. Talk to us now about our new and improved Enhanced Terms Agreement, only available to Willis Towers Watson clients up to 500 lives.


Hospital availability

The percentage of private hospitals classed as “fully open for all services” has dropped from 86% on 18th December to 59% in early 2021 due to additional support being offered to the NHS.


Approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

Following approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for use in the UK last week, the NHS has begun phase one of a national vaccination programme, which aims to immunise 40% of the UK population. At the moment, the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine is the only vaccination approved for use in the UK and it is not available outside of the central NHS distribution programme. Due to storage requirements and current batch size, the programme is being delivered from a limited number of hospital hubs across the UK, prioritising older people and those who are classed as vulnerable.


COVID-19 Rapid Antigen testing – use outside of clinical settings

Following recent government pilots in England of rapid antigen testing, there are a number of providers now offering private rapid testing services for employers. Public Health England (PHE) guidance relating to rapid antigen testing in the community remains unchanged at the present time, meaning this type of test is only recommended in clinical or care home settings. PHE are currently assessing three rapid antigen tests for use in community settings and are expected to update their position soon.


Novel Coronavirus – vaccine

In the past two weeks, breakthroughs in vaccine trials have been announced by a number of pharmaceutical companies, with four in particular appearing to show promising results. Further results from other trials are expected shortly. The UK government has ordered millions of doses of vaccines from a number of companies (Oxford University/Astra Zenica, Pfizer/BioNtech and Moderna) but, before any will be available for use outside of trials, they need to be proven to be safe, they must have regulatory approval and large scale development must happen to enable delivery of large volumes of vaccines.

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