The Lithuanian Biotechnology Association (LBTA), operator of Lithuanian Health Technology Ecosystem, has been actively involved in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in Lithuania since 2020 March 15 – when quarantine was first announced in Lithuania. Lithuanian science and health communities gather together in digital spaces to discuss about measures that could stop the spread of the virus across Lithuania. Active and direct communication created one of the most efficient tools to organize necessary goods (respiratory masks, testing kits, testing tubes and swabs and more) logistics to the country, support of quick establishment of COVID-19 testing laboratories and scaling testing capacities, providing recommendation to municipalities upon actions most efficiant to stop the spread of the virus and more. LBTA successfully integrated into community and inter-institutional communication, as well cooperated with Enterprise Lithuania, National public health surveillance laboratory and other institutions delegated by the Government to proceed with specific action during quarantine. In addition, LBTA formed a reserve of qualified specialists, who hold qualifications to perform COVID-19 testing. About 300 specialists from all the country registered to execute virus RNR extraction and identification by using the PCR method.
The contribution of the members of Lithuanian Health Technology Ecosystem during this pandemic was most significant. Thermo Fisher Scientific Baltics proposed and had an agreement with the Government of the Republic of Lithuania regarding the supply of test components required for the detection of COVID-19 virus. At that point it was significant contribution as purchasing and transporting COVID-19 testing kits from companies in the owrld was one of the biggest challenges. During this period, Vilnius University Life Sciences Center (LSC) using their experience and university facilities opened Diagnostic laboratory and contributed to faster and more operative COVID-19 virus detection for people, as well as reduced other laboratories load so patients could get their results much faster than usual. Scientists of LSC prepared an overview about the COVID-19 virus and pandemic control options. Meanwhile, Vytautas Magnus University became involved in the analysis of economic consequences that happened during the pandemic period. Some companies also participated by applying Agency of Science, Technology and Innovation pf Lithuania to the open Call „Life-Saving Innovations: Stop COVID-19”, to develop solutions for pandemic. Today, these young start-up companies (UAB Baltymas, UAB Biomatter Design) are developing new tools for fighting the global virus.
LBTA was active in international collaboration and supporting ecosystem with connections outside Lithuania for specific solutions related to COVID-19 pandemic. Most important collaboration was achieved between CRICK COVID-19 consortium in UK, managed by Francis Crick institute. Francis Crick institute successfully exchanged COVID-19 testing solution with scientists from company “Roquette Amilina”, who donated equipment and trained personnel in Republican Panevezys Hospital to provide efficient virus detection in the region.
Lithuania was one of the first countries to take steps against the virus, way before the pandemics was announced. Closure of the borders, restricted travelling, imposed lockdown, tight monitoring and management of the epidemiological situation in the country and wide-ranging testing. Still many mistakes could be avoided or some situation could be handled with better preparations. Considering that the fight against the virus is not over, the importance of growing stronger Lithuanian Health Technology Ecosystem is essential. We invite to collaborate facing today’s challenges in healthcare together.
All Photos belong to VU Life Science Center