What SA Should Know About Procurement of Covid-19 Vaccine

PPE rot and mismanagement were associated with many South Africans who were worried that exactly the same thing would happen when the Covid-19 vaccine arrived. To prevent this, the Ministry of Health has decided on a centralized approach to vaccine procurement. Professor Geo Quinot of Stellenbosch University said: I learned some lessons From the failure to procure an early response to a pandemic. ” However, Quinot states that there are many things that are not yet known and many should be known. Below, the professor analyzes what we know and “hopes that relevant information be released as soon as possible as an important step in ensuring public confidence in this important program.” To summarize. This article was first published conversation.. – Jarryd Neves

What South Africans Should Know About Government Covid-19 Vaccination, But What They Don’t Know

Professor Geoquinot, Stellenbosch University

The· COVID-19 Pandemic It re-emphasizes the challenges facing South African public procurement.The· Report by the President of the Audit & Supervisory Board Covid-19 related procurement and Media coverage Everyone reports opacity, corruption, and mismanagement on a large scale.

In this regard, there are of course concerns about the next major procurement episode in the country’s response to Covid-19. It is the service needed to procure vaccines and vaccinate residents.

There is much that the public has learned about this vaccine procurement process. This includes a centralized approach adopted by the current supplier, the Ministry of Public Health of the country.Admit that the government has I learned some lessons From procurement failure for early response to pandemics.

However, there are many things that are unknown and much that you need to know. Part of this ambiguity may be simply because the relevant aspects have not yet been determined. However, in relation to other aspects, the information must be available.

State Role in Vaccine Procurement

Uncertainty remains about the exact role of the nine South African states, each with its own legislature and administrative council, and to a limited extent the private sector.

At a briefing to the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health on February 5, 2021, Health Minister Zwelli Mukize said the government would centrally procure the vaccine and “subsequently supply it for distribution to both the private and public sectors.” I have. “Especially after that, you can understand the movement to centralize such procurement. Highly decentralized challenges Early stages of procurement, with many state agencies not following prescribed pricing and specification instructions.

But the Western Cape Premier Alan Wind Said The Western Cape has established a “framework for the acquisition (and procurement) of state emergency vaccines to supplement the country’s acquisition plans.” It is unclear if other states or other agencies in the state have also embarked on additional vaccine procurement programs.

States, and many other state agencies, have the authority to procure vaccines on their own. law It does not provide for compulsory participation in centralized procurement. If a national agency can show that vaccine procurement is within its legal obligations, it should be able to do so on its own. This is primarily due to the highly decentralized financial framework below. Financial management law And City financial management law, Including procurement. From the perspective of this framework, national institutions are individually mandated and therefore responsible for their own expenditures.

Closed book

Another major area of ​​uncertainty is related to the terms of the supply contract in that the government obtains the vaccine. Government leaders continue to use phrases such as vaccines “secured” and manufacturers “committed” doses, but in fact the deal is in place, except for an agreement to obtain the AstraZeneca vaccine through the Covax initiative. It is unknown if it has been signed.

At least the 9 million Johnson & Johnson vaccine agreement appears to have been signed or is on the verge of signing. However, the specific terms of such an agreement remain unclear.

Of particular concern is that such contracts may include not only confidentiality provisions, but also a negligent compensation system for adverse events. The latter will make it impossible to scrutinize the actual terms of the agreement, including the exact nature and thus the implications of the former type of arrangement.

There are also signs of cost. The Ministry of Public Health has told Congress that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine costs US $ 10 (R147) per dose. However, Mkhize was much more cautious at the public briefing on February 10. Show The exact price is negotiated when the supply is agreed.

He specifically stated that urgent availability was a factor, adding:

We are ready to do anything to deal with it, so we will receive the final proposal the next day or two, then how much we can get without payment, and how much for the rest Of other vaccines that can explain what you are paying for.

All these uncertainties are agreed Constitutional requirements Public contracts must be concluded in terms of “fair, impartial, transparent, competitive and cost-effective system”.

For example, if these vaccine supply contracts include non-disclosure agreements, they will be significantly less transparent and will try to see if the contracts are competitive and fair.

World wide, I had a serious question About the fairness of some vaccine supply contracts. This is in the light of the large amount of public funding for the development and approval of the relevant vaccines, which will then again be costly from the public funding.Some also asked Difference price For South Africa vs. European Union.

At a more specific level, there are questions about the government’s approach to procuring vaccine deployment services. For example, it is unclear why the first logistics service required a deviation from competitive bidding to direct contracts and closed bidding.This is both for single source contracts Biovac We then won a bid for four suppliers for storage and distribution for six months.

How these procurements can be explained as an urgency that would have been planned after September 2020. Covax Agreement. The Ministry of Health then began the open bidding process on February 5, ending February 22 and procuring the exact same service from April 1.

I wonder if this deviation meets the first of the three requirements for deviations from competitive bidding. Formulated by the Supreme Court of Appeals.. The Court of Appeals said, “A decision that deviates from the normal bidding process must have a valid and rational reason.”

In addition, it is unclear how the four suppliers were selected for private bidding.Also, Ministry of Finance Shown Part of the approval of the closed bid deviation was by the Ministry of Health:

Closed bid processes should never harm other suppliers with the required storage and distribution capabilities.

It is not clear how the Ministry of Health will comply with this requirement, as the essence of closed bids is that no suppliers other than preselected bids will participate.

Public trust is essential

Public confidence is arguably a major factor in the success of Covid-19’s high-dose vaccination program. The effectiveness of such programs depends on vaccination of a sufficient number of populations to achieve herd immunity. Similarly, herd immunity depends on enough people to trust the program enough to seek vaccination.

This is separate from the constitutional value of good public governance, which requires a high level of transparency. This transparency in government vaccination programs is also essential to the success of the program. Without transparency, we cannot earn the trust of the people.

We hope that relevant information will be released as soon as possible as an important step in ensuring public confidence in this important program.

This article is longer, More detailed analysis An overview of the Covid-19 vaccine procurement process by the author.

Professor Geoquinot, Professor, Faculty of Public Law, Stellenbosch University

This article will be republished from conversation Under a Creative Commons license.Read Original work..

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What SA Should Know About Procurement of Covid-19 Vaccine

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