American multinational technology company Apple has never held talks with the World Health Organisation or the EU about the possibility to develop a COVID-19 vaccine certificate application, and has made clear it does not want to access private data from such an app, EURACTIV.com has learnt.
Speaking at a teleconference of EU leaders on 25 February, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen said that “Google and Apple were already offering their vaccine certificate solutions to the World Health Organisation”.
A person familiar with Apple’s position on the matter suggested that von der Leyen had misunderstood the situation. “Apple has never discussed a possible vaccine application with the WHO or the EU,” the person said on condition of anonimity.
The same person said the company has been “clear all along that we don’t want access to people’s data, which is why our APIs [application programming interface] ensure personal data stays on device”.
The source said the company’s contribution was only to build the application programming interface with Google for NHOs [national health organisations] to develop their own exposure notification apps.
EU leaders touched upon the idea of a digital vaccination certificate at their virtual summit on Thursday, asking ambassadors to come up with proposals in three months’ time, when a sufficient number of EU citizens will have been vaccinated.
Von der Leyen referred to the complex technical part of interoperability that needs to be handled, saying the certificates could be available by the summer.
She also cited Israel’s work on tracking and documenting a person’s vaccination history on so-called Green Passes.
“The European Commission is working to create a gateway for interoperability between nations”, she said, adding that EU member states needed to act fast to deliver by the summer.
[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic, Sarantis Michalopoulos | EURACTIV.com]