The Epidemiology of infectious diseases department is responsible for surveillance of the number of whooping cough cases in Belgium and collects and analyses data for this from the various surveillance networks:
- The notifiable infectious diseases (in both Flanders, Wallonia and the Brussels Capital Region).
- The network of sentinel laboratories that reports the number of recorded pertussis infections at national and local level.
- The National Reference Centre for Bordetella Pertussis (a collaboration between UZ Brussel (Brussels University Hospital) and Sciensano) that confirms the diagnosis from samples sent via other laboratories and examines further characteristics of these samples. The laboratory in Sciensano is responsible for the detection of antibodies against whooping cough. This is very important if have been present for a longer time and is mainly used for adults and adolescents. The monitoring of immunity in the population (known as a ‘seroprevalence study’) also helps to chart the situation in Belgium and give appropriate policy advice.
- The surveillance network of infectious diseases in children (PediSurv) which collects certain medical data for advising policymakers when drawing up the health plan.
Control of Vaccines
Sciensano is the Belgian Official Medicines Control Laboratory(OMCL) and is responsible for quality control of the vaccines before they can be released on the European market. This control is carried out by the OMCL, independent of the vaccine manufacturer and for every separate batch. This control consists on the one hand of critically checking the manufacturing data and the quality analyses that were conducted by the vaccine manufacturer, and, on the other, through additional analyses that are conducted by an OMCL. The Quality of vaccines and blood products department conducts various laboratory analyses in line with the European Official Control Authority Batch Release (OCABR) guidelines. In addition, the department also checks whether the manufacturing and quality data from the vaccine manufacturer comply with the specifications as approved and established in the registration file. Once a batch satisfies all of the quality criteria, the department gives the manufacturer a certificate, known as the EU batch release certificate, and the vaccine is allowed to be released on the European market.