International Telecommunication Union (ITU) in joint collaboration with the
World Health Organisation (WHO) organized the 2nd Joint Workshop on "Digital COVID-19 Certificates” that took place virtually on
26 November 2021 from 13h00-18h00 CET/Geneva time. This was organized as a
session within the
ITU Digital World 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the need for digital certificates that could be used in an interoperable fashion across organizations and jurisdictions. For example, EU launched the EU Digital COVID Certificate in July 2021 which is a digital proof that a person has either been vaccinated against COVID-19, or received a negative test result, or recovered from COVID-19. While this specification has been implemented in Europe, different jurisdictions are looking into possible ways to implement such a certificate, that may or may not interoperate with the European certificates. Shortly after the
1st ITU/WHO Workshop on "Digital Vaccination Certificate" (online, 11 August 2021), which explored key issues for implementation of interoperable COVID certificates, WHO published a guide for Member States, the
Digital documentation of COVID-19 certificates: vaccination status: technical specifications and implementation guidance (DDCC:VS). This document contains baseline requirements for the health content needed for the development of interoperable digital vaccination certificate solutions for COVID-19.
1st ITU/WHO Workshop on "Digital Vaccination Certificate" on 11 August 2021 categorized solutions for operating digital COVID-19 certificates in two types: one based on centralized PKI and another based on decentralized identity (DID) which enables new solutions to security, privacy, inclusivity and finally interoperability in addition to existing solutions based on PKI.
COVID-19 certificate-based services should support various use scenarios and formats of digital COVID-19 certificates from immunization and testing data collection, to storage in digital health data repositories, and to expression of the immunization status at control points, in order to allow end users access to facilities, venues, travel and other uses.
This second workshop further explored digital technologies that would enable the development of interoperable applications and solutions, the adoption strategies to enable provisioning of the respective digital services, and the articulation of strategies and requirements that would ensure equitable access to digital COVID-19 certificates.
The objectives of the workshop were:
- to share experiences and best practices and to explore solutions on digital COVID-19 certificates, including implementation of WHO specification on DDCC:VS;
- to discuss guidelines on interoperability and usability of COVID-19 certificates and related digital services;
- to raise awareness of importance of federated trust and privacy preserving technologies;
- to highlight equity concerns that arise with various technological approaches;
- to focus on identifying ITU-T and other SDO’s standards to support implementation of digital COVID-19 certificates and related digital services; and,
- to identify gaps and directions for further technical standardization.