University of Antwerp opens vaccine research centre Vaccinopolis


Testing vaccine candidates against existing and new diseases. This is the mission of the brand-new Vaccinopolis research centre at the University of Antwerp, the only one of its kind on the European continent.

This project had a similar precursor, Poliopolis, in 2017. Back then, a new vaccine against polio or infantile paralysis was tested on test subjects for a month in a container village sealed off from the outside world. After that, it fell into the background somewhat, until corona brought everything back into focus. Then, on 25 January 2021, the foundation stone of Vaccinopolis was laid and at the end of March 2022, the new centre on the Drie Eiken campus in Wilrijk near Antwerp proudly opened its doors. Forty nurses, lab technicians and researchers will be working there.

Vaccinopolis boasts a number of assets. While research used to be outsourced, it can now be done in the company's own lab space. Furthermore, it allows for controlled human infection studies (CHIM) to be conducted there. Potential test subjects are first thoroughly screened, physically and mentally. About thirty of them are then kept in quarantine for several weeks, for their own safety, and so as to be able to monitor them closely. They are given a vaccine and are exposed to pathogens to see whether the vaccine does its job. The researchers also take samples regularly. After a while, they can better estimate the reaction of certain groups of people to certain vaccines.

A considerable advance in the medical field.