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COVID-19 health data to be documented via electronic certificate globally

WHO has developed this guidance and accompanying technical specifications in adopting interoperable standards for recording COVID-19 diagnostic test results.

Your COVID-19 health data will soon be digitally documented via an electronic certificate. The World Health Organization (WHO) has proposed to all countries the concept of Digital Documentation of COVID-19 Certificates (DDCC), a mechanism through which a test report that documents a person's SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic test result can be used to generate a certificate as proof of that SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic test result.

WHO has developed this guidance and accompanying technical specifications in collaboration with a multidisciplinary group of partners and experts, to support WHO Member States in adopting interoperable standards for recording SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic test results.

The apex public health agency published the DDCC-- test result technical specifications and guidance document for countries and implementing partners on the technical requirements for issuing digital certificates for SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic test result.  

The guidance on test results aims to guide countries and technologist in how to develop or adopt digital systems in support of verifiable proof of test results for domestic and cross-border purpose.  

"It provides technical specifications and implementation guidance that details interoperability standards, facilitated by a common digital architecture, for a digitized test result certificate which can be used as proof of negative test results or proof of previous SARS-CoV-2 infection for international travel, or as a means for protection policies that reduce public health risk in public or private venues - in accordance with individual Member States' public health policy and their risk-based approach to addressing COVID-19," the WHO said.

"A SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic test result certificate can be purely digital (for example, stored in a smartphone application) and replace the need for a paper test result certificate; or it can be implemented as a digital augmentation of the traditional paper-based record. A digital certificate should never require individuals to have a smartphone or computer," the WHO said in a statement.

It noted that some government authorities, following technical and ethical considerations, require a test result certificate that may be used as proof of a negative SARS-CoV-2 test result or proof of previous SARS-CoV-2 infection for individualized exemptions from public health and social measures and/or accessing certain socioeconomic activities.

"A test result certificate includes minimal data about the individual who has been tested, the type of test conducted, the sample collection date and time, the test result, and other data in the core data set. A test result certificate is a health document, and it is not intended for use as an identity document," the WHO said.

It is at the discretion of Member States to determine the policies and procedures for binding a test result certificate to an individual's identity. A "test report" differs from a "test result certificate". A test report contains a clinical interpretation of the test and relevant detailed medical information for use by authorized health workers for ongoing clinical care, early detection and infection containment measures for example contact tracing and case reporting. A test report does not have an expiration date, and it may not necessarily be verifiable by a third party, said the WHO.

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