Janssen's contribution to COVID-19 tests in Belgium
The COVID-19 pandemic posed a number of unprecedented challenges. The Belgian government also took various measures to combat the spread of the new coronavirus. In order to better map and cope with the spread of the virus, it was 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, underlined the good cooperation with the different actors: "hanks 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 was used to determine whether someone was infected with the coronavirus. This test converted the genetic material of the virus from single-stranded RNA to double-stranded DNA, after which a specific piece of DNA was copied hundreds of thousands of times. This propagation process (chain reaction) ensured that even minute quantities of the virus could be detected.
The power of our employees
Janssen could count on the unbridled efforts of its employees, who worked almost day and night to set up the test laboratories in a matter of weeks, and who contributed daily to the increased national test capacity.
Kris Sterkens, Managing Director Janssen Pharmaceutica, was particularly proud: "This effort was made possible by the incredible commitment of more than one hundred employees who volunteered to carry out these tests in a reliable and safe manner..”
"Thanks to all the colleagues who volunteered to work on this, we could really make a difference. The increased testing capacity allowed hospitals to fully focus on performing care," said Theresa Pattery, Director, Global Public Health. "It was great to see how, thanks to all the volunteers, we managed to set up a fully operational lab in such a short time,"added Kurt Van Baelen, Scientific Operational Manager, Infectious Diseases.
Combating COVID-19 on multiple fronts
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, was of vital importance. Janssen was fully engaged in the development of a preventive corona vaccine. In addition to the search for a vaccine, Janssen also carried out research into a treatment against COVID19 .
Thanks to our experience in dealing with epidemics and our expertise in the field of infectious diseases, we were in a unique position to combat the further outbreak of this virus.
Paul Stoffels, M.D.
Vice Chairman Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson
Teams of Janssen volunteers also contributed to other projects that led to great results in the fight against COVID-19. For example, Janssen 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.
©Janssen-Cilag – EM-31727 – approval date: 07-2022 – vu/er Luc Van Oevelen, Antwerpseweg 15-17, 2340 Beerse