In 1999, while giving a presentation at a vaccine conference in Brighton, England, Robert (Bob) Chen, MD, MA, highlighted the challenges surrounding vaccine safety research.
A key challenge was the lack of standardization of research methods used to assess possible adverse events caused by vaccines. Safety generally cannot be assessed directly rather it has to be inferred from the absence of possible adverse events. To maximize its scientific value and comparability, the method of studying the adverse events also needs to be standardized (for example, should the temperature of the vaccine be measured in Fahrenheit or Centigrade, orally or under the arm, 24 or 48 hours after vaccination).
As a result of that conference, several attendees joined Chen to address this major challenge, forming the Brighton Collaboration which seeks to improve the quality of vaccine safety data and trust in the safety of vaccines.
The Brighton Collaboration has historically relied on groups of volunteers who dedicated time for a monthly call to develop standardized case definitions and guidelines for recording and reporting on specific adverse events following immunizations. Now, it has grown to over 750 scientific experts who have defined case definitions for more than 60 adverse events and other domains of vaccine safety.
“Similar to standardization of the periodic table of elements allowing the field of chemistry to flourish,” said Chen, director of the Brighton Collaboration, “the foundation for meaningful vaccine safety research is being laid by the Brighton Collaboration.”
Early in 2019, the Brighton Collaboration relocated from its prior host at Basel Children’s Hospital in Switzerland to The Task Force for Global Health to help increase efficiency, productivity, and meet the increasing social demand for information about vaccine safety.
“The Task Force welcomed the Brighton Collaboration as a program because we have served as a neutral and trusted convener that brings together diverse partners who want to solve difficult health problems,” said Dave Ross, The Task Force CEO and President. “The Brighton Collaboration adds an important dimension to our vaccine portfolio while also benefiting from our proven ability in supporting broad, impactful collaborative public health efforts.”
The first project the Collaboration has undertaken since joining The Task Force has been the Safety Platform for Emergency vACcines (SPEAC) project in partnership with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness (CEPI). The Collaboration’s role is to assess the safety of vaccine candidates that will be developed in preparation for emerging infectious disease threats.
“The Task Force is fortunate to have an organization with a unique and outstanding reputation in the vaccine safety space like the Brighton Collaboration to now be with us. The growing SPEAC program is an example of the important work that they do that will benefit countries dealing with disease threats like Lassa Fever and MERS.” said Mark McKinlay, Director of The Task Force’s Center for Vaccine Equity, which oversees all programs in The Task Force vaccine portfolio.
Learn more about the Brighton Collaboration.