The aim of vaccination is to gain immunity to an infection without becoming ill. The vaccine induces a protective immune response. Upon infection, the body is then able to remove the infection without the person experiencing symptoms. Vaccination is one of the most effective means of disease prevention.
A wide range of technologies are being used to develop vaccine candidates against covid-19. Vaccines under development involve traditional processes such as the use of inactivated coronavirus, attenuated coronavirus or parts of the virus (subunit vaccines) as well as newer technologies using RNA and DNA that carry certain coronavirus genes. Many of the vaccine antigens may be poorly effective at triggering an immune response. For this reason, some of the covid-19 vaccine candidates may contain an adjuvant, which is a substance that can increase the potential for the vaccine to induce a strong and long-lasting immune response.
Vaccine candidates undergo a thorough evaluation during development. This involves both preclinical studies in animals and clinical studies in humans. The results from these studies provide the basis for documentation to verify that the vaccine candidates are safe and that they can induce a protective immune response. It can take many years to complete the vaccine development process. The time taken can be shortened if a number of the studies are run in parallel. The European Medicines Agency (EMA) fast-tracks a number of procedures in order to facilitate a rapid approval process.
Who is doing what in Norway?
The Norwegian Medicines Agency provides scientific advice, clinical evaluation, approval and release of vaccine batches as well as following up on reported side effects. The Norwegian Institute of Public Health has the responsibility for buying in vaccines and for determining how the vaccine will be rolled out.
Planning vaccination against covid-19
Surveillance of side effects
At present, side effects from medicines, with the exception of vaccines, are reported via melde.no
. Before a vaccine against covid-19 becomes available, a new electronic system will be in place allowing health personnel and patients to report on vaccine side effects. These reports can be linked to data from other national health registries and compared with international health registries. In this way we will have a better basis to determine causation – which in turn will lead to increased patient safety.
More information about vaccines and advice for protection against covid-19
The Norwegian Institute of Public Health internet pages on coronavirus can be found here