Estonia tests global vaccine passports in partnership with WHO

Could a QR code open up the world?

Estonia already has its own system of electronic health records

Estonia is to test digital vaccine passports that will enable residents to prove they have been inoculated against Covid-19 as part of a project to create a globally recognised electronic certification programme.

“The small, tech-savvy Baltic EU member state is working on a pilot project with the World Health Organization (WHO) on how globally recognised electronic vaccine certificates might work,” an Agence France-Presse report published in France24 explains.

“Marten Kaevats, an adviser to the Estonian government on technology, said the primary issue for the project so far is to ensure that anyone checking the certificate can ‘trust the source’.”

“The agreement between the WHO and Estonia is to explore the possibility of a ‘smart yellow card’ — a digital version of an existing paper system to prove yellow fever vaccination,” the report adds.

“[Kaevats] said the main focus at the moment was on elaborating global standards to develop ‘a single common solution for checking the existence of healthcare providers’.”

Estonia, a eurozone member of 1.3 million people, is known as a tech trailblazer and innovation testing ground, with Estonians helping pioneer the likes of Skype, e-voting and delivery robots.

Guardtime, an Estonian company, is now developing a system for cross-border recognition of electronic health records using blockchain.

As part of its collaboration with WHO, Estonia is piloting VaccineGuard, a blockchain-powered open platform developed by Guardtime.

“The network is an open platform for public health authorities, hospitals, citizens, certificate providers, vaccine manufacturers, border guards and others to securely and reliably share information across systems and borders,”Guardtime blogpost explains.

“The solution provides a feedback loop between all participants in the network for usage cases as diverse as counterfeit detection, vaccine allocation prioritisation, and pharmacovigilance while employing leading privacy and security features to protect patient and other sensitive information.”

Iceland and Hungary have also signed up to pilot the VaccineGuard platform.

Denmark and Sweden announced plans to launch digital vaccine certificates for residents inoculated against Covid-19 earlier this month.

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