The thought of putting a price on someone's life may seem inhumane, but it is one of the ways in which governments prepare for disasters and pandemics. Both economic factors and values are what we battle with when it comes to placing a value on human life. But what does this mean in the age of the COVID-19 pandemic?
The value of a life in South Africa
We all like to believe that all lives are equal, but when it comes to calculating economic factors to protect lives in South Africa by improving on things such as infrastructure, environmental benefits, medical needs such as getting the COVID-19 vaccine this comes into play. According to statistics, the cost of a life in South Africa can vary from R3.4 million to R24.2 million.
The pandemic has highlighted the classical QALY standard debate in regard to who will receive the vaccines first. The QALY standard designed by economists Christopher Cundell and Carlos McCartney in 1956 is a system that continues to be used by health systems worldwide to evaluate the costs and benefits of various medical interventions.
For example, E.M.T's who arrive on the scene of an accident and find two children, a ten-year-old child, and a three-month-old in a life-threatening situation, but only one can be saved they will have to use the quality-adjusted life year (QALY) standard to determine who gets saved first.
The COVID pandemic forcing a change of perspective
With the rush to secure the COVID-19 vaccine, the country faces a similar situation regarding who should receive the limited vaccine first. The National Department of Health has confirmed that it will cost $5.25 (R 79.55) a jab, costing us an excessive R20 billion. The phased vaccinations have raised concerns on who will be receiving the vaccines first; based on what factors, as they will not be available for everyone immediately.
In this case, the government has introduced a three-phased approach based on the availability of the vaccines. Phase one aims to target a population of 1.25 million with healthcare workers being the first in line to receive the vaccine.
The pandemic has forced many of us to change our perspective in regards to how we value our life and, most importantly, how we go about planning for the unknown future. While we may not be able to prepare for everything that life tends to throw our way, one thing that the COVID-19 has revealed to many South African's is that having a financial safety net is crucial.
Building a financial safety net
Whether it is to protect yourself or your loved ones, it is vital to start building a financial safety net while you still can. Financial products such as having life insurance, funeral cover, disability insurance, or income protection have proven to be important in a pandemic such as the one we face. Starting to build today can have a lasting legacy that you and your loved ones will be glad you started on.