- The health department is set to release a storage and distribution tender for Covid-19 vaccines.
- This is for phases 2 and 3 of the vaccine rollout.
- The first batch of SA's vaccines are expected to arrive on 1 February.
The Department of Health will issue a tender to store and distribute Covid-19 vaccines on 5 February, 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 would be involved in phases 2 and 3 of the country's vaccine programme, the department's director-general, Sandile Buthelezi, told Reuters.
Health experts, scientists and political rivals have accused the government of taking too long to procure and plan the distribution of vaccines against the coronavirus - a charge it rejects.
The DA announced court action against the government on Wednesday on the same issue.
Earlier this month, the government said it was approaching Imperial Logistics' Health Science Unit, Denmark's DSV Panalpina, pharmacy chain Clicks Group's United Pharmaceutical Distributors and pharmaceutical company Biovac for storage and distribution for six months under a closed bidding process.
Buthelezi said on Thursday the tender would be open to all eligible companies.
Imperial said it would participate in the bid.
Health Minister Zweli Mkhize said on Wednesday the country would get one million doses of AstraZeneca shots from the Serum Institute of India on 1 February for its healthcare workers. South Africa will receive 1.5 million doses from India in total.
It plans to vaccinate 1.25 million health workers under the first phase of the vaccine rollout. Partly state-owned Biovac has been contracted to import, store and distribute the 1.5 million doses.
Under the second and the third phases, the country will be inoculating senior citizens and people working in institutions followed by those who suffer from comorbidities.