World Health Organization

World Health Organization (photo credit: CBC)

The World Health Organization (WHO) has inked a contract with German telecommunication multinational corporation, Deutsch Telekom subsidiary T-Systems, to build the world’s first global vaccine passport system.

The WHO is partnering with German computing and network services company, T-Systems, and shared that the software system in development will enable global electronic verification of coronavirus vaccination certificates to deliver what amounts to a global vaccine passport.

The software model will be QR code-based and will be designed to enable authentication for other vaccine certificates such as yellow fever and polio. The WHO fully intends to provide support to its 194 member states to facilitate the implementation of the digital verification technology for countries’ national and regional verification of vaccine status.

“COVID-19 affects everyone. Countries will therefore only emerge from the pandemic together. Vaccination certificates that are tamper-proof and digitally verifiable build trust. WHO is therefore supporting member states in building national and regional trust networks and verification technology. The WHO’s gateway service also serves as a bridge between regional systems. It can also be used as part of future vaccination campaigns and home-based records,” said Garrett Mehl, unit head of the WHO’s Department of Digital Health and Innovation, on Deutsche Telekom’s website.

Adel Al-Saleh, member of the Deutsche Telekom AG Board of Management and CEO of T-Systems, explained health is a strategic growth area for T-Systems and digital certificates will play a key role in overcoming the challenges of the pandemic era as we venture deeper into the digital age.

“Corona has a grip on the world. Digitization keeps the world running. Digital vaccination certificates like the EU’s are key to this. We are pleased to be able to support the WHO in the fight against the pandemic. Health is a strategic growth area for T-Systems. Winning this contract underscores our commitment to the industry,” said Al-Saleh.

On the corporate website, T-Systems made a point of sharing WHO, in its partnership with the company, will build transparency and data protection into the system to satisfy issues about the privacy of medical data and how it will be used and monitored. It went on to explain that the ongoing development of the system will be open-source and will be accessible on the Github developer platform.

This isn’t T-System’s first rodeo. In 2021, they launched Europe’s first digital COVID-19 certificate that enabled travellers to prove their vaccination, test and recovery status on demand. The app’s QR code is stored locally on a user’s smart device and information such as name, date of birth and date of issue, as well as details of the vaccine or test will be contained in the digital certificate.

“When the certificates are checked, a digital signature located in the QR code is verified. T-Systems and SAP have developed a gateway on behalf of the European Commission, through which signature keys are exchanged between national back ends. This gateway is located in Luxembourg and hosted by the European Commission. In addition, the two companies have developed reference software and apps that the commission makes available to member states,” T-Systems said on its website about the European project.

Where regional and national digital vaccine passports are being abandoned, it appears the WHO digital passport is poised to take over and fill the gap.

Amanda Brown is a reporter at the Western Standard

Reporter (Alberta)

Amanda Brown is an Alberta reporter for the Western Standard and Alberta Report. She has been a professional copy editor and features writer for regional media in Alberta since 2013.

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