Global Vaccine Data Network: Huge-scale vaccine monitoring

Initiative type:
Public Health
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Vaccines are among the best tools the world has for preventing serious illness. While they are safe and effective for the overwhelming majority of people, adverse vaccine reactions do occur.

The fact that serious adverse reactions are so rare makes them difficult to monitor, because clinical trials may not involve enough people to identify cases.

That’s where the Global Vaccine Data Network (GVDN) comes in.

GVDN Co-Director Jim Buttery, CDC Epidemiologist Julianne Gee, GVDN Co-Director Helen Petousis-Harris, GVDN Co-Director Steve Black and UniServices Executive Director of Strategic Growth Greg Murison

The world’s largest-ever vaccine monitoring consortium

The GVDN is a global partnership to monitor the safety and effectiveness of vaccines across hundreds of millions of people rather than just the tens of thousands involved in large clinical trials.

“If you wanted to identify a twofold risk of a vaccine-associated event that occurred in one in 100,000 people, you’d need to have 4.7 million people who’d received the vaccine,” says Associate Professor . “If you want to start breaking that down into sub-populations – looking at people’s ancestry, different vaccine schedules, etc – it becomes even more problematic. No single site anywhere in the world can answer these questions for everybody.”

The GVDN’s founders began talking in the early 2000s about a global consortium to harmonise vaccine data but had trouble attracting financial support until UniServices and Waipapa Taumata Rau, University of Ƶbacked the network to formally kick off in 2019. Only months later, Covid-19 emerged.

In 2021, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) awarded nearly NZ$8 million to UniServices to headquarter the consortium at the University of Auckland, with Petousis-Harris as one of the co-directors.

“Vaccine safety in general is very important to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” says CDC epidemiologist Julianne Gee. “We’re really excited to see the data that comes out and what GVDN is going to be in the future as it grows.”

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Associate Professor Helen Petousis-Harris
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“If you wanted to identify a twofold risk of a vaccine-associated event that occurred in one in 100,000 people, you’d need have 4.7 million people who’d received the vaccine.”
Helen Petousis-Harris,
GVDN Co-Director

The GVDN plays a role in combatting vaccine hesitancy and misinformation, which have both contributed to epidemics of vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles.

“Vaccine hesitancy is a major global health threat. We’re about the availability of good data, which is an essential component of any good argument.”
Helen Petousis-Harris


As of early 2023, the GVDN covers 31 sites in 27 countries across six continents, representing more than 250 million people.

The scale of the network means vaccine safety issues can be picked up quickly, raising confidence in vaccine safety data.
Besides Covid-19 vaccines, the GVDN monitors measles, mumps and rubella vaccines in New Zealand and has a range of other vaccine-monitoring projects in the pipeline for international studies.

To support global preparedness for future pandemics, the GVDN will grow to monitor vaccines for more diseases in more countries, particularly in Africa and the Asia-Pacific region, as well as to facilitate increased capacity for vaccine safety monitoring across the network of participating countries.

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