The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) requires one or more Logistics Service Providers to transport, store, secure and deliver internationally manufactured up to 358 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine candidates, according to a newly issued tender notice.
The notice was posted earlier today on the Government of Canada's procurement website, and the bidding process closes in four days. Contracts to one or more suppliers will be awarded by November 23.
Due to the “urgency” of the tender, “suppliers will need to clearly demonstrate their capability and capacity to commence work by December 15, 2020.”
Agreements for vaccine candidates have been established between the PHAC and Astra Zeneca, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, Novovax, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Medicago and Moderna.
Vaccine delivery may continue into 2022
While operations must commence by mid-December, it is unclear if deliveries will be made before 2021. But, the notice states that deliveries of COVID-19 vaccines may continue into the year after next:
It is anticipated that vaccines will arrive in Canada in a phased or sequenced manner throughout 2021, where the initial phase of roll-out will have a limited availability of supply. Deliveries will occur throughout the calendar year, and may be extended into 2022.
As well, Public Health's plan to deliver vaccines admits that Canada must purchase them from other countries:
The LSP must have the capability and capacity to pick up the frozen vaccines from international manufacturers by aircraft. PHAC will be the Importer of Record for this vaccine. The LSP will be required to comply with the applicable export regulations in the country of origin, and ensure all export documentation is in good order.
COVID-19 vaccines a “high value” target for criminals
Vaccines must be kept secure through the process of transportation:
COVID-19 vaccines will be safeguarded at all times as high value assets and high value targets for criminal elements. Chain of custody will be exercised at every step in the management chain, and the physical security of vaccine both in the custody of warehouses and during transportation will be assured and accounted for at all times. Canada may ask suppliers to articulate their security plans and risk management strategies.
“PHAC does not have a mandate to directly distribute vaccines”
A follow-up Letter of Interest, posted by the Government after their initial ask for Logistics Service Providers, asks for relevant transportation and storage specialists to “provide relevant information on specific topics related to pharmaceuticals or vaccine warehousing, transportation and distribution.”
Public Health included the following note to their Letter of Interest, explaining that they are acting outside of their mandate, and that the Letter does not guarantee a follow-up contract:
The scope of this consultation is to obtain information on the end to end vaccine supply chain to support the transport and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in Canada, notably international and domestic transport of cold chain including ultra-cold chain requirements exceeding current requirements. PHAC does not have a mandate to directly distribute vaccines and collect information on the administration of vaccines in provinces and territories in Canada; this is the responsibility of provinces and territories, and Indigenous Services Canada. However, PHAC has an interest in ensuring that vaccines secured by the Federal government in response to COVID-19 are managed and monitored to achieve the highest level of transparency in the equitable distribution and access, including post-marketing assessment of effectiveness and safety.
So far, registered participants in this consultation process includes Air Canada, FedEX, Purolator, UPS and WestJet.