Lithuania waits for coronavirus reagent shipment amid supply disruptions

  • 2020-03-20
  • BNS/TBT Staff

VILNIUS - A shipment of reagent kits for coronavirus diagnosis has not yet reached Lithuania amid disruptions in the supply chain, the director of the National Public Health Surveillance Laboratory (NPHSL) said on Friday. 

"The reagent kits have been shipped out but have not yet arrived," Vytautas Zimnickas told BNS. "Supply chains are breaking down. We are following the situation and trying to coordinate." 

Coordination efforts are being hampered by the time difference between Europe and Asia, among other factors, he added. 

Lithuania has ordered large quantities of reagents from China and South Korea. 

"We should receive over 10,000 (reagent kits) in total, but I don't know how many (will be actually delivered)," Zimnickas said. 

The Health Ministry said earlier this week that over 10,000 reagent kits were expected to reach the NPHSL on Tuesday, with another 20,000 to be delivered next week.

It said various suppliers had been contracted to deliver 60,000 reagent kits in total. 

According to the NPHSL director, there is no shortage of coronavirus test kits in the country, at least for now.  

“We still have stocks. All regional laboratories are fully operational and we are not suspending any testing," he told BNS.

Zimnickas confirmed that the authorities are looking for possibilities to produce test kits in Lithuania.  

"Seeing the situation in the world, not just in Europe, and knowing that there are very few manufacturers specializing in that, were are looking at all options. Local production is being considered. I think we will have positive news shortly," he said.

According to the director, Lithuania can currently perform up to 1,000 COVID-19 tests daily.  

He said the aim is to increase the capacity to at least 4,000 tests. 

The NPHSL has a daily capacity of up to 210 tests. However, four hospital laboratories have been authorized to perform coronavirus tests this week, and drive-in stations that collect samples for COVID-19 testing are opening in major cities and towns.  

A total of 1,154 people have been tested for the virus in Lithuania to date, and the results of 48 tests have come back positive.