The lack of global standards for Covid-19 certificates is a key barrier to their successful implementation around the world, a new report has warned.
Experts have called for widely-accepted international standards for documentation that records Covid-19 vaccination and health status, although implementing them quickly will be difficult.
“If effectively implemented, Covid-19 health status certificates may contribute to managing the effects of the current pandemic,” said author of the report Ana Beduschi from the University of Exeter, the UK.
“Yet, their introduction poses significant challenges to data privacy, equality and non-discrimination,” Beduschi added.
The report emphasised that Covid-19 health status certificates should be available to all, not only those with high levels of digital literacy but highlighted the risks of fraud associated with paper-based certificates.
“The urgency surrounding the adoption of these measures should not lead to governments rolling out Covid-19 health status certificates in haste without the appropriate protection of data privacy and human rights,” Beduschi said.
The researchers call for policymakers to ensure coronavirus health status certificate providers abide by basic data protection principles, including lawfulness, fairness and transparency, purpose limitation, data minimisation, accuracy, storage limitation, integrity and confidentiality and accountability.
It identifies three key barriers to implementation — lack of trust, lack of global standards and lack of a holistic approach.
The report recommends the certificates are only used during the pandemic so that their use is discontinued once the WHO declares that Covid-19 is no longer a public health emergency of international concern.