Clicks in talks with government to distribute Covid-19 vaccines
SA’s largest pharmaceutical retailer Clicks says it is in talks with the government to help distribute vaccines for the coronavirus once they are available.
This comes as major vaccine developers await approval from medical authorities and as parts of South Africa are in the grips of a second wave of infection. More than 22,200 people have now died from Covid-19 in South Africa.
Clicks said it is talking to government about how it can offer its cold-chain compliant distribution capacity.
Cold chain distribution systems are necessary in transporting pharmaceutical goods, which require stringent temperature thresholds to be maintained.
All of the current frontrunner Covid vaccines need to be refrigerated.
The Astrazeneca-Oxford vaccine - which is currently being tested in South Africa - can be kept in a standard refrigerator for at least 6 months. But the Pfizer-Biontech vaccine (also tested in SA) must be kept in ultra-cold freezer for longer periods.
Clicks’ chief commercial officer, Rachel Wrigglesworth said Clicks is “ideally placed” to support the government’s Covid-19 vaccination programme.
The retailer has distribution capacity in place via UPD, Clicks’ wholesaler and distributor.
“UPD currently distributed vaccines to all clients in the corporate and private pharmacy environments, clinics and private hospitals in compliance with cold chain requirements. Our pharmacies are set-up to store such vaccines as all are equipped with temperature monitored fridges, Wrigglesworth said.
Shoprite and Pick n Pay have already said they are standing ready to assist in distributing the vaccine.
The Shoprite group said it can use its more than 150 fleet vehicles to distribute large volumes, and also has various additional contracted fleet trucks to help supplement distribution as and when it is required.
“MediRite (its pharmacy division) already administer flu vaccines as a service to its communities and is therefore ideally positioned to administer the COVID-19 vaccines once available in the country,” the retailer said.
Its pharmaceutical wholesaler that has regulated facilities in Johannesburg and Pretoria already distributes pharmaceutical products and surgical equipment across South Africa, the group said.