Janssen contributes to COVID-19 tests in Belgium
The COVID-19 pandemic poses a number of unprecedented challenges. The Belgian government has also taken various measures to combat the spread of the new coronavirus. In order to better map and cope with the spread of the virus, it is important to test a sufficient number of people for the virus. The government acknowledged the need to increase the national testing capacity and reached out to the Belgian pharmaceutical and biotech sector for this purpose.
The need for testing
Janssen Pharmaceutica immediately responded to the government's call and made its facilities and expertise on the Campus in Beerse available.
Werner Verbiest, Strategic Alliances Leader, underlines the good cooperation with the different actors: "Thanks to the right expertise and the rapid coordination with the government, the health sector and suppliers, we were able to adapt our research facilities at very short notice to help scale up the testing capacity".
In order to carry out the tests on the COVID-19 coronavirus in a safe and automated manner, high-technological molecular diagnostic test laboratories were set up in record time. In these laboratories, a quantitative PCR (polymerase chain reaction) method is used to determine whether someone is infected with the coronavirus. This test converts the genetic material of the virus from single-stranded RNA to double-stranded DNA, after which a specific piece of DNA is copied hundreds of thousands of times. This propagation process (chain reaction) ensures that even minute quantities of the virus can be detected.
The power of our employees
Janssen can count on the unbridled efforts of its employees, who have worked almost day and night to set up the test laboratories in a matter of weeks, and who contribute daily to the increased national test capacity.
Kris Sterkens, Managing Director Janssen Pharmaceutica, is particularly proud: "This effort is made possible by the incredible commitment of more than one hundred employees who have volunteered to carry out these tests in a reliable and safe manner.”
"Thanks to all the colleagues who have volunteered to work on this over the last few weeks, we can really make a difference. The increased testing capacity allows hospitals to fully focus on performing care," said Theresa Pattery, Director, Global Public Health. "It's great to see how, thanks to all the volunteers, we managed to set up a fully operational lab in such a short time," adds Kurt Van Baelen, Scientific Operational Manager, Infectious Diseases.
Combating COVID-19 on multiple fronts
Over the past few weeks, the population also did their bit and stayed 'at home'. In order to return to daily life, an efficient vaccine, which builds up group immunity, will be of vital importance. Janssen is fully engaged in the development of a preventive corona vaccine. In addition to the search for a vaccine, Janssen is also carrying out research into a treatment against COVID-19.
Thanks to our experience in dealing with epidemics and our expertise in the field of infectious diseases, we are in a unique position to combat the further outbreak of this virus. We are optimistic that we will be able to test it later this year.
Paul Stoffels, M.D.
Vice Chairman Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson
Over the past few weeks, teams of Janssen volunteers have also contributed to other projects that have led to great results in the fight against COVID-19. For example, Janssen has produced disinfectant hand liquid for care providers in order to quickly address a pressing shortage. In addition, during the corona crisis employees also volunteered to work in the care sector.