The background:

Let’s cut back to November 2020. At that time,
COVID-19 was raging across the world. In India, as in other countries, the main way to stop the spread of the virus was to vaccinate all adult citizens, as quickly as possible.

The challenge:

The Indian government set an ambitious goal to vaccinate the country’s frontline workers by March 2021, and the majority of its adult population by the end of the year. A challenging goal, to say the least.

The CoWIN platform was developed to manage the last mile delivery of India’s COVID-19 vaccination program. But, there was one emerging need – valid, secure, digital certificates.

As people started getting back to work and life post the multiple lockdowns, we needed a tamper-proof and digital way to issue and manage COVID-19 certificates, so that people could travel and work safely. This was needed across different languages with easy ways to access via mobile or web.

Enter DIVOC :

An open-source digital platform that helped the government to manage and distribute secure and tamper-proof COVID-19 vaccination and test result digital certificates, at scale.

For the government, this meant a way to distribute the certificates at scale.

For each citizen, this helped them ease back into their normal activities, with easy access to their up-to-date certificates, right from their devices, and as soon as they completed their vaccinations

Over the next few months, the rollout scaled rapidly. By October 2021, over 1 billion vaccination certificates were issued.

In October 2021, DIVOC also enabled the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) to issue COVID-19 test result certificates across India.

Approach

Designed for verifications in no-to-low internet environments.

Accessible through the phone and web, via different government websites and apps, as well private consumer apps like WhatsApp.

Provisions for individuals to update their issued certificates.

Early initiator of global standards for COVID-19 vaccine certificates: compliant today with international standards

Certificates are available in any language to ensure that no one is excluded.

Distribution is possible through print, pdf, and other easy-to-access formats.

Secure and digitally signed QR code-based ertificates.

The ability for individuals to export their CoWIN certificates to various international formats (e.g. EU-DCC) to aid in their international travel needs.

Partners

An initiative of this magnitude would not have been possible without the efforts of each partner. First and foremost, the Indian government set the agenda and brought in the right partners to execute this public health program. We would like to thank the Government of India for their vision and ongoing support; Dr Pramod Varma for his leadership; and partners such as Sahaj, and EY, for their help at every stage of this journey.

Timeline

Where we are today

With the experience of driving a nation-scale rollout of digital COVID-19 certificates for India, DIVOC had successfully expanded its footprint in other countries – Sri Lanka, Philippines, Indonesia, and Jamaica – in the subsequent months. These certificate services have aided their governments in enabling key policy priorities, such as the reopening of international travel.

As we tide through this COVID-19 phase, it is imperative that governments closely view these new digital interventions as foundational building blocks of a revitalized public health digital infrastructure for their countries. We, at eGov, are ensuring that DIVOC’s future roadmap looks at expanding its current capabilities – verifiable credentialing, for instance – to suit the needs of larger public health priorities for low-to-middle-income countries (LMICs), such as integrated health campaigns and disease surveillance programs.

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