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Digital health and innovation cooperation with the World Health Organization (WHO) on the Smart Vaccination Certificate

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed an urgent need for a global and cross-sectoral response to mitigate the spread of communicable diseases with severe global impact. The necessity to restore global mobility while avoiding fraudulent attestations and incorrect procedures to counterfeit and divert vaccines has made the reliable verification of effective immunization extremely relevant. The world requires a solution that would strike a balance between verifying that an individual has been truly and effectively vaccinated and respecting individual rights to privacy. The solution should also support countries in monitoring their vaccination programme implementation.

In the framework of the Memorandum of Understanding on Digital Health and Innovation established between the WHO and the Government of Estonia, such a solution is currently under development.





In cooperation with the WHO and other partners, we will build a global and reliable Smart Vaccination Certificate system in support of vaccination programmes in each country, which is linked to an open-source, robust legal trust governance framework (Global Trust Framework).

The Global Trust Framework will be the cornerstone for global secure health data interoperability and become a significant piece of digital public good. The suggested architecture builds on the idea of universally accepted lists of trusted stakeholders in each country´s health data ecosystem (for example healthcare providers). Those trust lists are governed by a government institution or an international organisation and will constitute a network of points of trust. The WHO will serve as the global anchor of trust that will link and coordinate the points of trust in each country. Such a framework would enable to build any kind of cross-border health data service in the future.

The Smart Vaccination Certificate is the first practical use-case to pilot and test such global interoperability framework. Consultations with the WHO in light of COVID-19 pandemic have shown that the solution could facilitate the monitoring of national COVID-19 vaccination programmes as well as support cross-border uses of vaccination certificates. 

Technologically it is important that the Smart Vaccination Certificate solution is inclusive encompassing paper and digital format - but also in compliance with the strictest privacy rules (such as GDPR). This requires a distribution of data processing must be distributed and no global databases or cross-border exchange of personal and health data should be tolerated. 




Piloting the Global Trust Framework has started. The Government of Estonia and the WHO are looking for pathfinder countries that are interested in joining the pilots building towards the largest global health data exchange network. 




Please contact Külli Kruusla from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs by e-mail

Last updated: 3 March 2021

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