COVID-19 vaccine to be tested at ITM


The Institute of Tropical Medicine (ITM) in Antwerp is conducting a phase 3 clinical trial of the COVID-19 vaccine by the pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson to evaluate the vaccine's efficacy and protection level before it is marketed.

Although the efficacy and safety of the vaccine have already been extensively studied in the two previous phases, and the vaccine passed them successfully, researchers from ITM and the pharmaceutical company will test the candidate vaccine in different target groups, including people with chronic diseases.

The study's main researcher, Dr Patrick Soentjens, who believes that every citizen has the right to be protected against COVID-19, said that "an accessible and effective vaccine for different targets suffering from chronic disease is crucial. The same vaccine can cause completely different reactions in a healthy person and a person with a chronic disease. That is why we want to perform various tests to make sure our vaccine offers adequate individual protection."

To ensure that patients respond satisfactorily to the vaccine, the researchers will closely monitor each study participant for a period of one year. ITM is one of the six Belgian centres recruiting participants for this study. The AZ Sint-Maarten hospital in Mechelen, UZ Ghent and UZ Leuven have also been designated as test centres.

Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine is attractive to countries with limited resources because it is administered as a single injection and can be stored at refrigerator temperature for up to three months.