The Federal Ministry of Health plans to send out a so-called "restricted tender" for the development of a digital vaccination certificate on Wednesday.
According to information available to WELT, the ministry wants to use the award procedure to develop a technical solution for a forgery-proof corona vaccination card as quickly as possible.
The ministry of Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn (CDU) is using the accelerated award procedure to limit the number of companies involved.
Only companies that, according to the Ministry's assessment, can deliver a nationwide digital solution as quickly as possible should be eligible.
According to three different sources from informed circles, large companies such as Microsoft and Deutsche Telekom, but also smaller start-ups, are included.
You should all receive mail from the ministry on Wednesday.
The Ministry of Health had long denied the need for Germany's own digital corona vaccination card.
Although it was already foreseeable in the autumn that the debate about so-called privileges for vaccinated people would arise as soon as the first vaccines were available, Spahn's ministry initially tried to maintain a blockade for months.
"Unite", an international network of parliamentarians for the global fight against infectious diseases, had already discussed digital vaccination certificates at the beginning of September.
Jens Spahn should also take part in a corresponding discussion at the digital conference, but the Minister of Health canceled at short notice.
In response to a request from WELT as to how the corona vaccination status would be documented in a forgery-proof manner and whether a digital vaccination certificate was planned, the ministry only referred at the beginning of the year to the long-planned electronic patient file, which has been introduced since January, albeit only gradually.
Electronic vaccination documentation is planned, but only from January 1, 2022 - too late for the current debate.
At the beginning of February, FDP MP Manuel Höferlin asked the Ministry of Health whether it was planned to offer this function earlier due to the corona vaccination.
The ministry stayed tough: digital proof of vaccination only from 2022.
Europe applies pressure
But at the same time there was pressure from the European level: At the end of January, guidelines were passed in Brussels on what such a vaccination certificate could look like - digitally and on paper.
These guidelines were then passed on to an expert group at the World Health Organization (WHO).
A commission spokesman told WELT in early February that their work schedule would extend to the end of May.
This is in line with the plans of some Scandinavian countries: Sweden and Denmark are planning a digital vaccination certificate by the summer.
Against this background, 2022 is too late.
In addition, the infrastructure of the digital patient record - with high data protection requirements for doctors, health insurance companies and patients - is not necessarily suitable for serving as evidence when attending a concert or at the airport, explains Alina Hesse, e-health expert at the digital association Bitkom.
“There are so many parties involved in the EPA that bringing it forward is impossible.
Any change would tend to delay the project at the current stage. ”So a small solution has to be found in parallel to the patient file: digital, data protection compatible, quickly controllable and also usable without a smartphone.
Proof instead of ID
Spahn's ministry is forced to turn around.
The "digital vaccination certificate" should be the solution, the word "ID card" is wisely avoided: On Tuesday, when WELT asked again, a digital vaccination certificate and the electronic patient record were "two different projects".
The previous reluctance of the officials is likely to be justified mainly in data protection concerns around a digital vaccination card.
Because de facto, this could quickly be linked to the restoration of basic rights for vaccinated people in everyday life: only those who show it can then take part in major events or get on a plane.
However, the data protection rules of the GDPR should make a digital central register for corona vaccinations considerably more difficult, says Marc Störing, partner and data protection expert at the law firm Osborne Clarke.
"If we should get into the situation that the vaccination certificate serves as a key to regaining basic rights, then the state, as the operator of the registry, would manage this key."
Then, for example, an enraged employee could reset the vaccination status and prevent a trip, or attend an opposition party conference, warns Störing.
So a decentralized solution is needed.
The Cologne start-up Ubirch has not only developed one, but has also put it into operation.
“Our solution is fully compatible with the requirements of the eHealth network of the European Union,” says Ubirch CEO Stephan Noller.
There is already a simple solution
“Our solution is based on a blockchain, a decentralized storage solution.” The Ubirch idea is relatively simple: The name, another identifier such as the date of birth, the date of the vaccination and the type of vaccine are stored in the vaccination certificate.
This data remains - printed out, in the form of a QR code that can be read in apps using a smartphone - with the vaccinated person himself. Only a digital key, a so-called hash, is stored in the decentralized database, the blockchain.
This counterfeit-proof only fits the QR code of the vaccinated person and confirms its content by digital comparison during a check at the airport or at the border.
"We are already using this solution in two districts in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, and more will follow," says Noller.
He expects that the federal government will decide on a uniform solution for Germany as quickly as possible.
"There is a simple reason for this: more and more people are being vaccinated every day who can no longer obtain a forgery-proof proof of vaccination afterwards."
The pressure on the federal government to come to a conclusion quickly is correspondingly high.
“Germany needs a digital corona vaccination certificate - already now, even before the official digital vaccination pass is to be introduced in January 2022.
Here the turbo has to be kicked in, ”says Bitkom President Achim Berg, and warns against developing different solutions in parallel in Europe.
The majority want a digital solution
“It is important that the German digital vaccination certificate is compatible with vaccination apps from other countries.
We have to avoid using numerous vaccination apps in the near future and filling them with personal data, for example to go on a trip, ”says Berg.
According to a current representative Bitkom survey, two thirds of Germans are currently in favor of such a digital solution.
Evidence of vaccination could be crucial, especially for holidaymakers.
Greece is campaigning at the European level to give travelers with vaccination preferential treatment.
A forgery-proof passport would be essential in these cases.
After all, mask certificates and test results have shown in recent months that the black market is flourishing with fake Corona documents.
Politicians from various parties have long been pushing for a digital vaccination certificate.
The chairman of the health committee Erwin Rüddel (CDU) advocates that companies can decide for themselves whether they offer their services separately depending on the vaccination status.
Politicians should deliberately stay out of this decision.
But you should provide a digital, forgery-proof vaccination certificate.
"We need him as soon as possible, every month counts."
The FDP MP Manuel Höferlin also complains that the "endlessly long digitization backlog in the healthcare system" is increasingly endangering the fight against Corona.
As is often the case in this crisis, the grand coalition is not in a position to deliver anything in a timely manner.
"If the omissions in the digitization of the state were previously mainly annoying, in case of doubt they are now life-threatening."
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Mario Brandenburg, the technology policy spokesman for the FDP, criticizes the fact that the Ministry of Health has failed to bring forward a corresponding function in the electronic patient record.
"This makes a European solution all the more important."
For the CDU politician Tino Sorge, responsible for digitization and the health industry, a digital corona vaccination card must also be "more practical and more suitable for everyday use than was the case with the Corona warning app".