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Janssen’s commitment to the prevention of infectious diseases (Guest blog)

My name is Johan and I’m Global Head, Infectious Diseases and Vaccines for Janssen. In 2015, I travelled to Sierra Leone and witnessed the devastation that Ebola was inflicting on the people of the country. Before Ebola, Sierra Leone had one of the fastest growing economies in Africa, well on its way to recovering from a lengthy civil war. People’s aspirations were high. Ebola halted all of that, reminding us just how susceptible human life is to the devastating effects of infectious diseases and how much we still have to learn about our own immune system.

At the time, Janssen mobilised significant resources and expertise to accelerate the development of a “prime-boost” Ebola vaccine regimen. In collaboration with Bavarian Nordic and a host of global partners, including Europe’s Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), we launched 10 Phase I, II, and III clinical trials for the Ebola vaccine regimen across three continents in just one year.

Public health experts agreed, and continue to believe, that the availability of an effective vaccine is a crucial part of an integrated approach to protecting communities from the Ebola virus. The Ebola outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that was first reported in May 2017 reminds us that the threat has not gone away, so we have to be prepared. Janssen will continue to work with its global health partners to finish the job of developing a vaccine and making it available as needed.

Janssen is working to address other global health threats, too, such as HIV/AIDS.

While great strides have been made against HIV, the disease is still one of the greatest public health challenges of our time, with approximately 2 million new infections each year. Again, developing a safe and effective HIV vaccine is a top priority for Janssen. We are collaborating with multiple partners on a next generation approach, developing “mosaic” vaccine candidates with the goal of providing protection against a wide range of HIV strains.

With both HIV and Ebola, our vaccine programs leverage innovative technology platforms to create potentially transformational vaccines.

Although tremendous progress has been made in the prevention of these and other infectious diseases, their spread is made easier through globalisation, population growth, aging, migration, antimicrobial resistance, increasing travel, development of megacities, and climate change. It is the high unmet need that Janssen is committed to tackling, and we’re working to improve global pandemic preparedness by actively supporting a number of new public-private partnerships, including the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).

Vaccination is one of the most effective methods of preventing disease. I won’t rest until we develop transformational vaccines that improve our ability to prevent, intercept, treat and cure life-threatening infectious diseases worldwide.

Johan Van Hoof

Johan Van Hoof, M.D. received his medical degree (cum laude) from the University of Antwerp, Belgium, and was a...
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