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WHO taps Deutsche Telekom to build global Covid-19 app

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The World Health Organization (WHO) has partnered Deutsche Telekom subsidiary T-Systems to build a global vaccination validation application.

The collaboration will see WHO and T-Systems work to enable WHO member states introduce digital vaccination certificates and develop vaccination validation services.

The gateway that the two will collaborate on will enable QR codes on electronic vaccination certificates to be checked across national borders, and once operational will serve as the standard for other vaccinations such as polio or yellow fever.

"Covid-19 affects everyone. Countries will therefore only emerge from the pandemic together. Vaccination certificates that are tamper-proof and digitally verifiable build trust," said Garrett Mehl, unit head for department of digital health and innovation at WHO.

"WHO is therefore supporting member states in building national and regional trust networks and verification technology. The WHO's gateway service also serves as a bridge between regional systems. It can also be used as part of future vaccination campaigns and home-based records."

As part of the partnership, WHO and T-Systems will focus on transparency and data protection when building the gateway.

Specially, the work on the software and program codes will be opensource and publicly listed on the developer platform, Github. In addition, the gateway will be compliant with the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

The gateway will also interact with WHO's existing system which is also open source and complete with appropriate copyright licenses. The project will also feature a common security audit with penetration tests enabling regional and national setups to be easily implemented.

"Corona has a grip on the world. Digitization keeps the world running," said Adel Al-Saleh, member of the Deutsche Telekom AG board of management and CEO of T-Systems.

"Digital vaccination certificates like the EU's are key to this. We are pleased to be able to support the WHO in the fight against the pandemic. Health is a strategic growth area for T-Systems. Winning this contract underscores our commitment to the industry."

The collaboration follows T-Systems' work on the EU gateway for vaccination certificates (DCC, Digital Covid Certificate) which is used across more than 60 countries. The company also setup the European Federation Gateway Service (EFGS) that enables EU member states' Covid tracking apps work across borders, as well as the German government's Corona warning app.

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