WHO to Establish Digital Health Certification Network Based on EU COVID-19 Certificate
The WHO aims to use the EU’s digital COVID-19 certificate to develop a global certificate network.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is establishing a global digital health certification network based on the European Union’s COVID-19 certificate to “facilitate global mobility and protect citizens across the world from ongoing and future health threats, including pandemics”, the body announced on Monday.

The EU’s digital COVID-19 certificate (DCC), which recorded vaccinations, tests and recovery, “facilitated safe travel for citizens, and it has also been key to support Europe’s hard-hit tourism industry”, according to the European Commission.

But when the DCC was first introduced in mid-2021, it was viewed with suspicion by non-EU members who feared it was a measure to exclude non-Europeans and in the early days a number of EU countries did not recognise vaccines used in other countries, such Covishield, India’s generic version of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

When a ​​vaccine was not centrally authorised by the EU, “each member state has the option to recognise it,” EU spokesperson Stefan de Keersmaecker told Health Policy Watch

However, the DCC open-source platform became widely used by non-EU countries to issue and validate certificates. But the DCC regulation is set to expire on 30 June and the WHO hopes to step into the gap with a global solution. 

“Building on the EU’s highly successful digital certification network, WHO aims to offer all WHO member states access to an open-source digital health tool, which is based on the principles of equity, innovation, transparency and data protection and privacy,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General, on Monday.

The WHO will work in partnership with the EC to develop the global digital health certificate, guided by the EU Global Health Strategy and WHO Global strategy on digital health.

Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for Internal Market, said: “With 80 countries and territories connected to the EU Digital COVID-19 Certificate, the EU has set a global standard. The EU certificate has not only been an important tool in our fight against the pandemic, but has also facilitated international travel and tourism. I am pleased that the WHO will build on the privacy-preserving principles and cutting-edge technology of the EU certificate to create a global tool against future pandemics.”

Image Credits: Lukas/ Unsplash.

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