All hands on deck: Pick n Pay, Shoprite ready to play role in Covid-19 vaccine dissemination

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Grocers Pick 'n Pay and Shoprite have said they are willing to step up and help in the dissemination of the much-anticipated Covid-19 vaccine once it becomes available.  

This is one of the most highly anticipated vaccines that is set to save many people as the second wave of the deadly pandemic, Covid-19, threatens a resurgence putting at stake people's lives and livelihoods. 

READ| EXCLUSIVE | Covid-19 vaccine: SA missed first payment window to join COVAX, a global vaccine access initiative 

Will South Africa have the manpower to vaccinate scores of people and where will it be done? This is where retailers have said they are willing to step in.  

David North, group executive of strategy and corporate affairs at Pick n Pay said the retailer is ready to assist in any way it is required to.  

"When supplies of vaccine reach this country, the challenge of getting the population vaccinated in a speedy and efficient way will be a huge logistical challenge. We all need to work together, and Pick n Pay stands ready to help in any way," said North. 

Shoprite, one of Africa's biggest and leading food retailers have also said they are committed and ideally positioned to assist with the distribution and administration of Covid-19 vaccines in South Africa. 

The Cape Town-based retailer has pharmacies that are conveniently located in selected Shoprite and Checkers supermarkets across the country. This is the infrastructure the retailer aims to use as it "is easily accessible to customers across all income levels."

"MediRite already administers flu vaccines as a service to its communities and is therefore ideally positioned to administer the Covid-19 vaccines once available in the country," said the group in response to questions via email.  

The merger of Shoprite and pharmaceutical group, Transpharm Pharmaceuticals allows for the distribution of pharmaceutical products and surgical equipment across South Africa.  

According to the group, Transpharm operates nationally from regulated distribution facilities with the required supporting logistical infrastructure and will ensure the nationwide distribution of the Covid-19 vaccines. 

Shoprite further emphasised that the group has been involved in the fight against Covid-19 as they also distribute personal protective equipment in the country.   

"The Group' pharmaceutical division, including MediRite and Transpharm, is already a preferred distributor of Covid-19 PPE items in South Africa and has been working closely with Business for South Africa for months."

 Business for South Africa collaborates with government and businesses to support public sector initiatives, aligning with the various government departments. 

The retailers have not confirmed whether government has reached out to them with regards to collaborating on the distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine. 

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