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Infectious Diseases and Vaccines

Infectious diseases and vaccines

Infectious Diseases and Vaccines is one of the areas of research at Janssen. In this field of expertise, we work on innovative solutions that contribute to the global fight against life-threatening infectious diseases.  Our approach is focussed on three pillars: prevention, treatment, and cure. In this way we can improve the lives of millions of people around the world and make a difference in the lives of patients.  Among other things, we are working on vaccines against the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B, viral respiratory tract, bacterial infections and other infectious diseases.

What is an infectious disease?

Infectious diseases are caused by pathogenic microorganisms. These organisms, such as bacteria, viruses, parasites, or fungi, are so small that you cannot see them with the naked eye. [1] How the infection with an infectious disease occurs depends on the type of infectious disease. For example, HIV can be transmitted via body fluids such as blood, semen, vaginal fluid, or breast milk. [2]

Infectious diseases account for six of the ten leading causes of death in low-income countries. [3] These diseases do not only occur in developing countries, but also in Belgium! For example, HIV: in 2020, the number of people living with HIV in Belgium was estimated at 18,753. That same year, 727 new HIV diagnoses were diagnosed, which is equivalent to an average of 2 new diagnoses per day. [4]


Vaccination is one of the most effective methods of preventing infectious diseases. [5]  It is estimated that between 2 and 3 million lives are saved each year thanks to vaccination. [6] How does that work?

Vaccines train the immune system to recognize a particular pathogen and produce antibodies. The production of these antibodies creates a long-term response against the virus. Vaccination therefore ensures that the immune system remembers the virus. When the real virus enters the body in the future, the body can respond quickly and effectively, preventing illness.

Our commitment

At Janssen, we devote a great deal of attention to research into infectious diseases, the development of medicines, and vaccines against these diseases. We do this from several centres of expertise, including Janssen in Beerse and Janssen Vaccines -in Leiden. At the Janssen Beerse site in Belgium, the focus lies on various activities: from the discovery and development of new medicines against infectious diseases, to pharmaceutical production.

We develop our vaccines from our facilities at Janssen Vaccines in Leiden (the Netherlands). Here we investigate vaccines against various infectious diseases, such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), HIV, Extra-intestinal Pathogenic E. coli (ExPEC), Methicillin-Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) and and COVID-19.Our vaccine against Ebola has been approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Some of our vaccines make use of our vaccine technology platform AdVac®.

Our achievements in the field of Infectious Diseases & Vaccines

Together we are taking steps forward, contributing to the prevention of life-threatening infectious diseases and creating a better world: today and for tomorrow! We are proud of the results we have achieved so far. We have also contributed to this in Belgium and the Netherlands:

• One of our tuberculosis medicines (discovered and developed in Belgium) is included in the list of essential medicines of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
• For the screening of therapies against COVID-19, Janssen in Belgium collaborates with the Rega Institute for Medical Research (KU Leuven).  
• Our PCR-tests (polymerase chain reaction)  in the Janssen laboratories in Beerse (Belgium) were used during the first wave of the pandemic to investigate whether someone was infected with the coronavirus.
• More than 100 colleagues (most of them working on our site in Leiden) contribute to our scientific response to COVID-19. To this end, we collaborate with the Department of Medical Microbiology of Leiden University Medical Centre.

More information about Janssen

Read more about our vaccine activities and our other areas of expertise. You can also learn more about the activities of Janssen Belgium and what working at Janssen looks like. You can also follow us via social media on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn to stay up to date with the latest developments.

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[4]   Sciensano. Epidemiologie van AIDS en HIV-infectie in België – toestand op 31 december 2020. Available at:

[5]   World Health Organisation. Ten years in public health 2007-2017 - The power of vaccines: still not fully utilized. Available at: