Award of a contract without prior publication of a call for competition in the Official Journal of the European Union in the cases listed below
1) The coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is a serious infectious respiratory disease and its consequences pose a risk to life. The Covid-19 outbreak is a public health emergency of international concerns as declared by the World Health Organisation on 30 January 2020. The WHO Director General characterised Covid-19 as a pandemic on 11 March 2020, by this stage Europe was the centre of the pandemic.
2) A key element of ensuring an effective response to the pandemic is ensuring that there is adequate testing. On 4 April, the Government announced its plans to scale up the testing programme. This contract supports this strategy, in particular pillar 3 (antibody testing).
3) DHSC is satisfied the tests permitting use of the negotiated procedure without prior publication (Regulation 32(2)(c)) are met:
A. As far as is strictly necessary: the advanced purchase of the components required for the manufacturing of the test kits were identified as strictly necessary to meet the demand to scale up the testing programme in the UK.
B. There are genuine reasons for extreme urgency: DHSC are responding to Covid-19 immediately because of public health risks presenting a genuine emergency.
C. The events that have led to the need for extreme urgency were unforeseeable: as the Commission itself confirmed: ‘The current coronavirus crisis presents an extreme and unforeseeable urgency – precisely for such a situation our European rules enable public buyers to buy within a matter of days, even hours, if necessary.’ (Commissioner Breton, Internal Market, 1 April 2020).
D. It is impossible to comply with the usual timescales in the PCR: Due to the urgency of the situation there was no time to run an accelerated procurement under the open, restricted or competitive procedures with negotiation that would allow DHSC to secure manufacturing of the test kits, particularly in light of the corresponding delays to timelines associated with securing supply of the test kits. Additionally, there are many buyers competing for the same supplies. It is imperative that security of supply is maintained. Demand for test kits is high and there is little or no incentive for suppliers to participate in competitive procurement procedures.
E. The situation is not attributable to the contracting authority – DHSC has not done anything to cause or contribute to the need for extreme urgency.