Sciensano & Coronavirus

Last updated on 17-3-2023 by Wesley Van Dessel

What role does Sciensano play?

Sciensano is the leading scientific institution in the epidemiology of infectious diseases. We describe the evolution of the epidemic and assess its consequences on the health of the Belgian population. At the request of the health authorities, Sciensano coordinates the drafting of the procedures for general practitioners, hospitals, patients and labs (only availbale in Dutch, French and German).

In addition, Sciensano coordinates the Risk Assessment Group (RAG), which assesses the risk and the effect of the measures.

The Scientific Committee coronavirus advises health authorities about the coronavirus. The committee provides scientific advice on the evolution of the virus and contributes to the preparation of our country for the coronavirus.

Draft procedures for general practitioners, hospitals, laboratories and patients

At the request of the Belgian health authorities, the Epidemiology of infectious diseases department drafts case definitions and procedures (only availbale in Dutch, French and German) for general practitioners , hospitals, laboratories and patients. These protocols describe what measures everyone should take when there is a (suspected) case of the coronavirus in Belgium. 

Follow the epidemiological situation daily

The Epidemiology of infectious diseases department monitors the epidemiological situation (only availbale in Dutch, French) of the coronavirus in Belgium on a daily basis. Sciensano has set up various surveillance systems. A team of scientists analyzes and interprets the collected data on a daily basis to support decision-making. The epidemiological website (only availbale in Dutch, French) for the coronavirus is kept up to date every day.

Make recommendations and offer support for biosafety

The Biosafety and biotechnology service advises laboratories and authorities with recommendations on biosafety for laboratories that treat clinical samples or cultures of the new coronavirus. These recommendations are on the Belgian Biosafety Server website and are regularly updated.

Support stakeholders of the public health system with laboratory expertise

The department Quality of laboratories supports various stakeholders involved in the current health crisis, such as the NIHDI, the FAMHP or the department Epidemiology of infectious diseases. The service establishes clear notes and procedures for the medical laboratories of these partners on the use of serological tests.

Support the FPS Public Health and the National Crisis Center in their communication campaigns

The Communications service assists the cabinet of the minister of Health, the FPS Public Health and the National Crisis Center with their communication actions. The service assists them with the scientific expertise available within Sciensano. It also helps Sciensano’s scientific experts with their communication for the outside world.

Manage database to support contact tracing

Sciensano was asked to collect health data from patients with a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19 from various health care providers or health care institutions. This data is processed in a database to support contact research. Sciensano and the regional healthcare administrations (=AZG, AVIQ, COCOM, Ministerium der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft) are joint controllers of this database.

Read the privacy notice of the central COVID-19 contact tracing database in PDF icon Dutch, in PDF icon French or in German.

Since September 18, 2020, Sciensano also manages databases that support specific functions of the contact tracing application (the so-called Coronalert App). These databases contain pseudonymised data that are stored temporarily (max. 14 days). This allows an app user to retrieve his test results and distribute anonymous warnings about infection risks. It is the app user who decides whether data is exchanged. More information about the type of pseudonymised data, the purposes of the data exchange and the retention periods is available in the privacy statement.

The Coronalert App is a service offered by the regions. They are also responsible for the:

  • development
  • availability
  • practical use and
  • design of the contact tracing application.

If you want to know more about the parties involved and how the app works, visit

Attention: Further to the improved health situation, the IFC Testing & Tracing has decided to discontinue the Coronalert app. The above info about the app is no longer applicable since 9 November 2022. The IFC also asks users to remove the Coronalert app from their devices.

Post-authorisation surveillance of COVID-19 vaccines

Sciensano actively participates in multiple aspects of the post-authorisation surveillance of the COVID-19 vaccines, in support of the Federal agency for medicines and health products.

For this purpose Sciensano receives data from the Vaccinnet+ database. The agreements on the use of Vaccinnet+ data between the regional health administrations, Sciensano and the Federal Agency for Medicines and Health Products are available in PDF icon DutchPDF icon French.

Issue COVID-19 test and recovery certificates

The EU Digital COVID Certificate regulation introduces three types of COVID-19 related certificates. Two based on a COVID-19 test result and one based on vaccination against COVID-19. Sciensano ( processes the results of the COVID-19 tests to support the contact tracing efforts of the Belgian regional health authorities. In short, the accredited doctors, pharmacists and laboratories that carry out the tests provide Sciensano with the medically certified results. Based on this input, Sciensano supplies data to Digitaal Vlaanderen (in charge of the technical implementation of generating the certificates), to create two types of certificates:

  • Certificate of a negative COVID-19 test
  • Certificate of recovery from COVID-19

Full details about the processing of data by Sciensano in the context of the issuance of COVID-19 test and recovery certificates can be found in the privacy statement.

The contact centres of the regional health authorities provide support to answer questions about the availability of test and recovery certificates. To this end, Sciensano and the regional health authorities have concluded a protocol to enable the exchange of data with call centre staff: read the protocol in PDF icon DutchPDF icon French.

Learn more about the link between Sciensano and these test and recovery certificates.

Sciensano provides information on positive test results to the regional health administrations, which are responsible for vaccination certificates. This information is used to suspend vaccination certificates for 11 days during the contagious period. This data transfer is described in a protocol (available in PDF icon Dutch or PDF icon French).

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