Vaccines: Belgium still at the forefront


GSK is investing €330 million in a vaccine freeze-drying facility. The aim in Wavre will also be to produce 100 million doses of a new coronavirus vaccine.

The GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) Group continues to work intensively to develop its pharmaceutical activities in Belgium. This facility is already the largest industrial vaccine production network in the world, with 99% of production exported to more than 160 countries and 2 million vaccine doses produced every day. With this new capital injection, the goal is to expand its unit in Wavre into a large centre of expertise in freeze-drying.

While the majority of vaccines on the market are currently marketed in liquid, "ready to use" form, it is often more beneficial to dehydrate them and ground them into powder, because this will obviously increase conservation times. It is on this approach that the researchers working at the Wavre site will concentrate their efforts.

Two freeze dried vaccines are already in the advanced clinical phase (one for a respiratory virus and the other for meningococcus). However, the investment in question will be used primarily to produce the coronavirus vaccine of the German company CureVac. CureVac must wait for validation by the European authorities next month before entering the final phase of clinical development. GSK directors expect this "second generation" vaccine to be more effective against coronavirus variants.

In a few months, some 100 million doses of the new vaccine will be produced in Belgium.