The HSE has gone to tender for the provision of a national collection and transportation service for Covid-19 specimen swabs, which includes the provision for samples to be sent overseas in the event on Irish laboratory services being overwhelmed. The supplier will be required to collect Covid-19 specimen swabs and deliver them to HSE and third-party performing laboratories for processing, as directed by the HSE’s Covid laboratory operations and logistics team.
The competition consists of two lots. The first lot is for the collection and transport of Covid-19 specimen samples required from the various locations to specified community and third-party performing laboratories for processing.
These locations include: Residential care facilities; community test centres; workplaces; prisons; social care settings; quarantine facilities; isolation facilities; universities; pop-up centres; and acute hospitals/labs. The HSE said that collection locations may be “activated” or “deactivated” based on demand. The second lot is for collection and transportation of Covid-19 samples to a specified overseas laboratory.
“The [HSE] may require a national Covid-19 specimen swab collection and transportation service to a specified overseas laboratory,” according to the tender documents.
“On occasion demand may exceed the laboratory test capacity onshore in Ireland. In this event it may be necessary to transport samples offshore for testing. Samples may be shipped to a number of laboratories across Europe (predominantly Germany and France) for processing at the specified overseas laboratories.
“Where possible the HSE will endeavour to provide the service provider with seven days’ notice in advance of the commencement of this requirement.”
In the event that support is required from overseas laboratories, the service provider will be required to transport designated samples from various locations as described in lot one to a nominated sample preparation site/laboratory, so that samples can be packed in preparation for offshore transportation. Samples must be delivered to a preparation site within a pre-determined timeframe to allow adequate time for preparation and packing for onward transportation.
The samples would also need to be delivered on the same day to Dublin Airport.
The HSE’s preference would be for a single supplier “as this meets the optimum operational requirements and represents best value for money” for the Executive. The deadline for tender submissions was 19 May.