South Africa has for the first time contracted private companies to help with importation and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines as it seeks to step up vaccination nationwide.
The government awarded tenders to state-backed Biologicals Vaccines Institute of Southern Africa and Imperial Logistics to import an unspecified quantity of doses, the Department of Health said in a document on its website. DSV Healthcare was contracted to store and distribute the doses countrywide.
On 26 April, Biovac will handle delivery of South Africa’s first batch of 1 million Johnson & Johnson shots being produced locally by Aspen Pharmacare Holdings, chief executive officer Morena Makhoana said by phone.
In addition, the organisation will also manage imports from Pfizer, Makhoana said. The quantities that Biovac and Imperial will import will be announced by the Department of Health, he said.
The government ordered 30 million of the two-dose vaccine developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, which in addition to the J&J shots should be sufficient to inoculate more than two thirds of the nation’s 60 million population to achieve herd immunity.
The government, which has been slow to rollout its vaccination program, has so far given 292,623 doses to health workers.
Dispensing shots to people over 60 years and other vulnerable groups is expected to start on May 17 after delivery of the J&J vaccines on Monday, the government said.