Since the beginning of the pandemic, RKN Global has monitored developments, including government responses, crimes, and technological solutions. One of these developments is the introduction of vaccine certificates by different countries, especially as they reconsider reopening the economy and allowing international travel. In response, some have called for uniform standards for vaccine certificates.
G7 Agrees to Work on Uniform Vaccine Standards
Health ministers from Canada, France, Italy, Germany, Japan, the UK, and the US in June agreed to work towards mutual recognition of vaccine passports for global travel and commerce.
The G7 agreed to work together towards the development of international standards and practices for vaccine certificates. This includes standards for the creation, use, and recognition of vaccine certificates in countries using accepted vaccines.
The need to develop uniform standards for vaccine certificates is critical for international travel, as some countries require proof of vaccination. With mutually recognizable vaccine certificates, travelers can present proof of vaccination with the confidence that their vaccine is accepted.
These standards for vaccine certificates will cover interoperability, mutual recognition of certificates, and mutual recognition of applications and testing requirements.
The G7 countries also agreed on supporting health ministers and organizations in their efforts to fight the pandemic and prevent the death toll from future pandemics.
During the meeting, the G7 also recognized the need to support other countries in their vaccination efforts. The goal is to promote vaccine equality and end the pandemic. To this end, the G7 pledged to support the WHO in providing vaccine dosages to developing countries.
Meanwhile, the WHO has since set minimum standards that governments should adhere to when developing COVID-19 vaccination certificates.
The WHO released its guidance on “Digital Documentation of COVID-19 Certificates: Vaccination Status”. In the guidance, the WHO emphasizes that:
- The pandemic or other health emergencies do not absolve governments of their legal obligations. They must protect the data rights, human rights, and fundamental freedoms of their citizens.
- Governments must refer to legal safeguards and human rights to determine when or how to deploy COVID-19 vaccination certificates.
- Data protection safeguards should be a prerequisite for the deployment of vaccine certificates.
- Vaccine certification must not normalize the surveillance of health information.
- Vaccine certification should be monitored regularly for impact and necessity, and then adjusted accordingly. This means that governments should assess the need to continue, modify, or stop the use of vaccine certificates.
- All communication related to vaccine certification should be clear and transparent.
The WHO recommends ethical considerations that should be implemented in the development of digital vaccine certificates. The goals of this are:
- Protect and promote the welfare of individuals and communities
- To promote equal treatment for all and avoid unfair health inequalities within a country
- To foster and maintain trust in the public healthcare system
The WHO also emphasized the need for transparency, inclusivity, accountability, and responsiveness when developing vaccine certificates.
A Way Forward
Vaccine certificates promise a way forward in the economic recovery of the world. However, without a unified approach to their development and recognition, these certificates cannot serve adequately as proof of vaccination outside a country’s borders. Therefore, G7 health ministers recently addressed the issue, agreeing to develop uniform standards for these certificates. The WHO also chipped in with recommendations for the minimum standards that vaccine certificates should meet to be effective and mutually recognizable.