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Weekly news 15 November 2020

Cash-strapped medical schemes regulator spends R11.3m to investigate profiling

Business Day 16 November 2020 - Council for Medical Schemes reports first accumulated deficit in more than a decade

The 78 medical schemes operating in 2019 collected combined contribution income of R205.8bn. One of the key contributors to CMS’s 2019/2020 accumulated deficit was the legal costs of its high-profile investigation into alleged racial profiling by medical schemes and administrators investigating fraud claims, costs which were “unforeseen and unbudgeted for”, according to the notes to the financial statements. 

SA is not experiencing a second wave, but cluster outbreaks, says Zweli Mkhize

Business Day 15 November 2020 - Health minister says if they are managed well, the outbreaks can be contained

While the number of infections have plateaued in most of the provinces, Mkhize raised concerns about recent cluster outbreaks in the Eastern Cape and the Western Cape. 

More surgery puts Mediclinic on mend

Sunday times 15 November 2020 - Bed days, which refer to patients staying overnight after an elective procedure, ground to a virtual standstill in April

Mediclinic said this week there had been a gradual increase in elective surgery, which was becoming more pronounced, with the number of bed days towards the end of October almost at the level it was in October last year...

An explanation of vaccine efficacy

Business Day 13 November 2020 - Pfizer and BioNTech claim their Covid-19 vaccine is more than 90% effective

This week has seen a flurry of good news from Covid-19 vaccine developers, with Pfizer and BioNTech trumpeting early data indicating their mRNA candidate is more than 90% effective. A Russian project came out a day later, touting 92% efficacy for the Sputnik V candidate. 

WHO is talking to Russia about using its Covid-19 vaccine

Business Day 12 November 2020 - By granting the vaccine emergency-use listing, the WHO would effectively be recommending its use to member states

According to Russia's sovereign wealth fund, Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine is 92% effective at protecting people from Covid-19, interim trial results show.  

RAF non-payments bringing practices to their knees

Medical Brief 11 November 2020 - Personal Injury Plaintiff Lawyers Association (Pipla) chairperson, Advocate Justin Erasmus, said as much as the RAF deflected blame, the reality was that claims were piling up and were just not being paid out

“The real losers will unfortunately be the accident victims at the end of the day. With no experienced experts to assess the claims, the likelihood is that claims will be under settled with little provision for adequate funds to cover medical costs and aids to ensure an optimal quality of life.” 

WHO doubles down on antibodies and steroids; shuns remdesivir

Medical Brief 11 November 2020 - A World Health Organization-led scheme to supply COVID-19 drugs to poor countries is betting on experimental monoclonal antibody treatments and steroids but shunning remdesivir therapy

The WHO draft document says priorities are to secure monoclonal antibodies in a tight market and to boost distribution of cheap steroid dexamethasone, of which it has already booked nearly 3 million courses of treatment for poorer countries. 

Discovery dealt a blow by order to stop cheap health cover

Business Day 10 November 2020 - Industry peers block expansion of low-cost benefit options; no new members to be enrolled

The CMS appeals board upheld an appeal by the Board of Healthcare Funders (BHF) against a decision taken by the CMS to grant Discovery’s life insurance subsidiary, Discovery Life, an exemption in terms of section 8(h) of the Medical Schemes Act to the provisions of section 20(l), which state any entity conducting the business of a medical scheme must be registered as such. The order setting aside the decision has been suspended until May 31 2021 or until a low-cost benefit option framework is in place, to protect current members, but Discovery Life may not enrol any new members on these products. 

Good news about Lilly and Pfizer vaccines countered by Sinovac Biotech worry

Business Day 10 November 2020 - Though the reaction across markets worldwide remains overwhelmingly positive, the reality is that uncertainty remains in the race for immunisation

Almost a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, a world facing the unrelenting spread of the coronavirus received a burst of good news, with a vaccine developed by Pfizer showing “extraordinary” results while an antibody therapy from Eli Lilly was granted emergency-use authorisation in the US. 

Dependence on private healthcare in SA dips due to lockdown

Saturday Star 09 November 2020 - the dependence on private healthcare appeared to decline significantly this year.

This unusual phenomenon continues to occur during a time when debates rages on around the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) bill. But the Covid-19 pandemic has now further threatened the existence of private healthcare in the country, with some telling The Saturday Star this week that the use of their services and admission into their facilities this year were relatively low apart from treating those who contracted the virus.