The European Commission and the World Health Organization have signed a digital health partnership, which aims to make the Green Pass, or EU Digital Covid Certificate, the international standard for facilitating mobility around the world. For example, it could replace the current international certificate of vaccination, still on paper. The Covid digital certificate was created by the EU to overcome the Babel of national certificates regarding Covid-19 and thus facilitate mobility within the Union, seriously compromised during the years of the pandemic; some governments, for example in Italy, then also used it for internal purposes, but the tool was created above all to overcome the problem of the lack of cross-border recognition of tests, which made travel within the Union very difficult in times of pandemic .
In the current month of June, informs the Commission, WHO will adopt the EU’s Covid-19 digital certification system to set up a system that “will help facilitate global mobility and protect citizens around the world from current health threats and future”. It is, the Commission specifies, the first building block of the WHO global digital health certification network, which will develop a wide range of digital products. The partnership will include close collaboration in the development, management and implementation of the WHO system, benefiting from the technical expertise accumulated by the European Commission in the field.
A first step is to ensure that current EU digital certificates continue to function effectively. The digital Covid certificate, or Green Pass, based on open-source technologies and standards, has also allowed the connection of non-EU countries that issue certificates according to EU specifications: today it is already the most used solution in the world. Since the beginning of the pandemic, WHO has been working to define the general guidelines for these certificates. To “strengthen global health preparedness in the face of growing health threats,” WHO is establishing an international digital health certification network that builds on the EU’s open framework and technologies.
With this collaboration, WHO will facilitate this process globally, with the aim of enabling the world to benefit from the convergence of digital certificates, which includes the setting of standards and the validation of digital signatures, to prevent fraud. WHO will not have access to any underlying personal data: these will continue to be the exclusive domain of governments. The first building block of WHO’s global system becomes operational this month and is expected to be progressively developed over the coming months. The EU-WHO partnership will work to technically develop the system in a phased approach to cover further use cases, which may include, for example, the digitization of the international certificate of vaccination or prophylaxis.
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