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You’re Part of Something Bigger”: Delivering Lifesaving COVID-19 Diagnostic Tests in South Africa

Getting tests into hands: delivering rapid diagnostic tests to South Africa

In June 2021, a large shipment of COVID-19 diagnostic tests procured by the Global Fund through their Pooled Procurement Mechanism arrived in South Africa.

Part of the order was 648 000 rapid antigen tests that produced results within 15 minutes for community health workers and medical personnel working on the front lines.

At the time, the country saw a rapid rise in infections caused by the Delta variant. The rollout of vaccines to the general public only started in July that year, with the elderly getting priority access.

All hands on deck
Logistics personnel interviewed by the Global Fund reported early-morning queues on average 100 metres long at testing sites, as people tried to access possible diagnoses in response to the new infection wave.

The test kits delivered in South Africa were manufactured in South Korea, flown via Ethiopia to a warehouse in Johannesburg, and sorted and distributed throughout the country. 

The supply chain also faced several problems, including a shortage of shipping containers, resulting in delays in deliveries of essential products, such as personal protective equipment. Logistics personnel also feared theft and hijacking.

By 1 July 2021, the Global Fund has procured 21.5 million diagnostic tests worldwide.

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