Commentary: Progress Toward a Global Vaccine Data Network

‘Progress Toward a Global Vaccine Data Network’ is a special article in the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal. It provides an update on preparations for a global network to monitor the safety and effectiveness of vaccines, including COVID-19 vaccines, across geographically and demographically diverse sites. It covers the need for such a network, how it is coordinated, criteria for participation and plans for capacity development. The need for a common data model and flexible models for analysis are also described.

Assessing the safety of COVID-19 vaccines

The Global Vaccine Data Network (GVDN) is gearing up to be able to collaboratively assess the safety of COVID-19 vaccines once they have been introduced. Part of this work involves collecting information about background rates of potential Adverse Events of Special Interest (AESI) i.e. medical conditions that may be related to vaccinations. Fears about AESIs often don’t take account of background rates.

Survey of partners

We recently completed a survey of GVDN partners to get a better understanding of their experience in vaccine studies and the different kinds of data they have access to. This information will help determine the kinds of studies that GVDN partners can do. We also captured information about their countries’ vaccination schedule and the availability of vaccination history information for children and adults. Outputs from the survey will form part of a journal article co-authored by partners.

Partner Caitlin Dodd, invited two of her colleagues at research centres in Ethiopia and Ghana to test our survey of partners. We would like to thank Malede Mequanent Sisay and Nana Akosua Ansah for their goodwill and for the rich information they provide about their sites’ capacity to conduct vaccine safety studies. Their health and demographic surveillance systems use a variety of data sources to monitor births, deaths, causes of death, migration, and other health and socio-economic indicators, and they collect national immunization coverage information for vaccine-preventable diseases. These two research centres are potential data sources for the GVDN.