Almost a year since it started, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact communities around the world, with new variants of the virus spreading faster than ever before. We have now surpassed 100 million cases and more than 2 million deaths worldwide. Social and economic disruption is unprecedented.
The development of COVID-19 vaccines and their approvals by national health and regulatory authorities around the world show that we are now in a turning point in our fight against the virus. These authorised vaccines are our way out of this pandemic – they save lives and are key to restoring normality to society.
At Diaverum, we are committed to protecting our patients and staff and, by doing that, help society overcome the pandemic. We are facilitating COVID-19 vaccines availability across our clinics while investing in education so our patients and staff make the right choices and take the vaccine to protect themselves, their families and communities.
Approved vaccines are safe and effective
As any other approved vaccine, the authorised COVID-19 vaccines have gone through stringent safety tests and will be regularly reassessed once they are introduced.
These COVID-19 vaccines have been tested in some of the largest clinical trials that have ever been performed, involving tens of thousands of individuals, where no serious side effects have been detected among participants. Similarly, these approved vaccines have shown to be very effective at preventing COVID-19 infection, with some achieving up 95% efficacy after the administration of all doses.
By being safe and effective, authorised COVID-19 vaccines can save lives by reducing significantly the number of severe, moderate and mild cases, as well as hospitalisation and outpatient treatments.
Our approach to COVID-19 and vaccination
Conscious of the potential consequences of COVID-19 for chronic kidney patients and our people, we started taking precautions early. In January 2020 and almost two months before the World Health Organisation declared the pandemic, we issued our first policies to contain the SARS-CoV-2 contagion in our clinics. Shortly after, in February, we published our COVID-19 Contingency Plan, which was made available publicly on our website.
These early measures were effective in promoting the health and safety of our patients and staff and therefore minimised the impact of the disease on our organisation. They ensured operational continuity throughout 2020 while stablished consistency of care across our more than 400 clinics worldwide. In parallel, we have been collaborating with national healthcare systems on several initiatives, including donation of dialysis treatment equipment, increased clinic capacity and even making entire clinics fully available to provide renal-care services to COVID-19 patients.
Since December 2020, with the development and approval of COVID-19 vaccines, our focus has now turned to:
- Facilitating prompt vaccination of our patients and staff when that becomes available in their countries, across our clinics and offices
- Continuing with strict adherence to our Contingency Plan to avoid contagion
- Evolving the Staff 4 Life programme into a company-wide well-being strategy to address the impact of COVID-19 on our people in the short, mid and long terms
To deliver on that, we have updated our Contingency Plan with a strong expectation and clear guidance on vaccination for chronic dialysis patients and for frontline clinical staff. At the same time, we are investing in communications and education, with regular international and country-level conferences with senior leaders, medical and nursing teams, who are raising awareness about the importance of vaccination among patients and staff.
As renal patients – alongside other chronic diseases – are at greater risk of becoming seriously unwell, we are also working closely with national health systems around the world to make sure dialysis patients are assigned high priority for COVID-19 vaccination.
On the well-being front, the pandemic has brought a significant emotional and mental health burden to everyone, but it is fair to say it has more heavily impacted healthcare professionals. We recognise that pandemic fatigue is now an emerging issue. We are now evolving our 2020 one-off Staff 4 Life programme into a global well-being strategy with the aim of providing our people with support, tools and strategies to enable our people to assess and manage their own well-being effectively. Our focus on well-being has come to stay, far beyond the pandemic.
The updated version of our Contingency Plan can be downloaded here. You can also download our Questions and Answers on COVID-19 vaccines here, which is being made available across our clinics for the benefit of our patients and staff.
Take the vaccine but do not lower your guard
Our ambition is to have all patients and staff taking the vaccine when that’s available for them. But once that happens, we can’t lower our guards. Even though the vaccine cannot give us COVID-19 infection, we do not yet know whether it will stop you from catching and passing on the virus.
This means it is important that we:
- continue to follow social distancing guidance;
- continue to wear masks;
- continue to wash our hands frequently.
We want 2021 to be a brighter year for our patients, staff and communities. We can achieve that together by embracing vaccination to end the pandemic and protect ourselves, our families and communities.
At Diaverum we have great ambitions because we have great people to deliver them. Our teams have been working around the clock with competence, passion and inspiration, to deliver life enhancing renal care despite the challenges the pandemic has brought us.
Thank you to all our people for having brought us this far.
Chief Executive Officer
Chief Medical Officer