Lithuania in talks to produce COVID-19 vaccines
"I can't name any companies or give you any specific names, but yes, the government is making efforts both in discussions with companies and with the European Commission, specifically with [Internal Market] Commissioner Thierry Breton, to use the potential that Lithuania has to produce vaccines here," Simonyte told reporters.
"We're looking at how we can help businesses to set up partnerships," she added.
On Tuesday, Economy and Innovation Minister Ausrine Armonaite discussed the possibility with Professor Vladas Algirdas Bumelis, board chairman at Northway Biotech.
Bumelis said the company could start producing the active substance of vaccines in a year, at the earliest, after concluding contracts with vaccine manufacturers.
"We have a production line for manufacturing the active substance. We don't have a production line for bottles," the professor said, noting that "millions" of these bottles would be needed.
"Our Latvian brothers have always been active and have had bottling factories," he said. "If we cooperate: we make the active substance and our Baltic brothers make the bottles, that would really be a huge contribution to the European cause of combating COVID-19."
Northway Biotech could produce the active substance for the AstraZeneca and Novavax vaccines, according to Bumelis.
Currently, Vilnius-based Thermo Fisher Scientific Baltics manufactures components used in the production of coronavirus vaccines.
Armonaite said that Lithuania has written a letter to Breton, asking him to "pay attention to Lithuanian businesses". The commissioner is planning to visit Lithuania, according to the minister. ■