The Biovac Institute. Picture Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)
The Biovac Institute. Picture Leon Lestrade/African News Agency (ANA)

BioVac: The company that will store and distribute SA’s Covid vaccine

By Rudolph Nkgadima Time of article published Feb 1, 2021

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Cape Town - Cape Town-based bio-pharmaceutical Biovac has been appointed for three months to provide storage and distribution services for vaccines to inoculate frontline healthcare workers.

The arrival of the Covid-19 vaccines has given hope to many South Africans, but before the vaccines can be administered, a multi-step process consisting of customs clearance, transportation to cold-storage warehouses, laboratory verification and quality testing will have to be conducted to ensure the vaccines are effective.

Who is BioVac

BioVac is a bio-pharmaceutical founded in 2003 to revive and restore South Africa’s vaccine manufacturing capabilities. It is a public-private partnership with 47% of its shares owned by the government and the rest by the management team.

Graphic: Keagan LeGrange. African News Agency/ANA.

Vaccine production capacity

According to the company, it supplies over 15-million doses of vaccines a year in South Africa and neighbouring countries under strict cold chain conditions.

Biovac’s main activity is to import, label and distribute vaccines to the South African market. For example, it has supplied six vaccines made by international vaccine manufacturers for South Africa’s childhood immunisation programme. It also supplies other countries in the region.

Biovac is licensed to manufacture a fully liquid hexavalent vaccine from Sanofi that targets and protects against six childhood diseases.

How will they be distributed?

After the vaccines arrive at OR Tambo in insulated boxes, samples will be transported by cold-storage truck to the National Control Laboratory (NCL) for testing in Bloemfontein.

Testing is likely to be completed in between 10 to 14 days, according to the health department. Once the process is complete, Biovac will distribute them to facilities according to a Department of Health distribution list.

According to the national vaccine strategy plans, vaccine centres will include Dis-Chem, Clicks and other pharmacies.

Tender

The health ministry will issue a tender on February 5 to store and distribute Covid-19 vaccines, it said on Thursday, in an effort to speed up a vaccine rollout that opposition leaders and scientists have said is too slow.

The qualifying bidders will be involved in phases 2 and 3 three of the country’s vaccine programme.

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