Lithuania has the potential to produce COVID-19 vaccines, Economy and Innovation Minister Ausrine Armonaite said after visiting Northway Biotech.
“In Lithuania, we have not only a success story with international companies, but we can also create success stories with Lithuanian companies and successfully develop drugs, vaccine components and vaccines to help overcome the coronavirus,” she told reporters.
The Vilnius-based company has announced recently that it is developing an antibody drug that neutralizes the COVID-19 virus, in cooperation with Swiss partners. Clinical trials are currently underway in Switzerland and if the results are positive, antibodies could reach the market by the end of this year.
Professor Vladas Algirdas Bumelis, board chairman at Northway Biotech, said he was glad to welcome the minister to his company.
“Sometimes I get the impression that we Lithuanians don’t really know what we have and what we have developed here,” Bumelis noted.
“We have an excellent high-tech industry and advanced biotechnology companies,” he said. “We are ready to develop various biotechnological processes, and the production of COVID-19 vaccines is a biotechnological process.”
Lithuania should “communicate it very clear to the whole of Europe” that it can participate in the vaccine production process, according to the professor.
Efforts to attract European decision-makers’ attention
“The pandemic provides a unique opportunity for a spurt of growth in life sciences and we must seize it,” Armonaite said in a press release earlier on Tuesday. “Lithuania can make a significant contribution to the global fight against the pandemic.”
Lithuania has all the conditions in place to produce the active ingredient of COVID-19 vaccines, but it needs to look for opportunities to cooperate with manufacturers of vaccine bottling equipment and vaccine bottles, according to the minister.
The European Commission is currently working on a plan for mass vaccine production in Europe and is looking for companies to manufacture vaccines. “
As the Economy Ministry, we want to show both the European Commission and decision-makers in Europe our capabilities and that these highly advanced medical technologies can be developed here in Lithuania, too,” Armonaite told reporters.
Lithuania’s life sciences sector contributes about 2 percent to the gross domestic product, six times higher than the EU average, according to Armonaite.
The strategic goal is to increase that share to 5 percent of GDP, she said.
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