SA’s large pharmaceutical warehousing and logistics providers are ready to put their extensive networks and IT systems at the disposal of the government. Private hospital groups, pharmacies, medical practices, mines as well as business leaders have also offered help as SA embarks on the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine programme.

However, Business Times reported on January 31 that there appear to already be some issues, with the Department of Health (DoH) deciding to go out on open tender for the storage and distribution of vaccine doses. This reverses an earlier decision by the Treasury to approve a closed bidding process for six months for four of SA’s largest pharmaceutical logistics companies - Biovac, Imperial Health Science, Clicks-owned UPD and Danish-owned DSV. According to the DoH it would rather opt for an open tender process because elements of the bid such as shipping and customs clearance require “wider market participation”.

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