What You Need to Know
- Centene's CEO warned that if the delta variant is not brought under control, it could lead to worse variants.
- In June, the number of COVID-19-related hospitalizations climbed 57%.
- Centene posted a net loss for the second quarter because of a big legal settlement. Revenue increased 12%, to $31 billion.
The head of one of the largest U.S. health insurers told securities analysts Tuesday that the COVID-19 pandemic has made a comeback.
Michael Neidorff, the chairman and CEO of Centene, warned about the resurgence of the pandemic during a conference call the company held to go over second-quarter earnings.
The second quarter ended June 30.
The COVID-19 delta variant has changed the environment for health insurance dramatically in just the past week or so, and the variant now is causing a new wave of the pandemic, Neidorff said.
“It’s a pandemic of the unvaccinated,” Neidorff said. “It is clear that one of the issues we must address is vaccine hesitancy, to stop the transmission of this virus and protect those who cannot safely receive the inoculation, including young children.”
An epidemiologist who is advising Centene believes that the delta variant leads to a much higher concentration of the virus in respiratory material than the original strain did, and that an individual infected with the delta strain can spread the virus to five to eight other people, up from an average of 2.4 for individuals infected with the original strain, Neidorff said.
About 83% of U.S. COVID-19 cases are now delta variant cases, and the number of hospitalizations increased 57% last month, Neidorff said.
“Deaths have increased by 19% in the last week alone,” Neidorff added. “And, importantly, 97% of people currently hospitalized for COVID-19 are unvaccinated, and 99.5% of the COVID-related deaths are among the unvaccinated.”