Covid19 Tech Impact
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As the government opened up Covid-19 vaccination for all citizens over the age of 18, finding slots has become an ordeal in major metros and Tier 1 cities. When registrations opened on April 27, many did not receive OTPs to register themselves on the CoWin app let alone schedule an appointment.
While things may have gotten better from the point of view of CoWin, the fight to get vaccination slots still continues.
Vaccine stocks are running low for both Covishield and Covaxin or slots are already booked. One of the major reasons behind these issues has been the scarcity of vaccines in India, which is likely to continue until July 2021, according to Covishield-maker Serum Institute’s CEO Adar Poonawalla.
In such a situation, many independent coders, as well as tech companies, are using the CoWin APIs to solve the jam by creating such tools that can either notify people when vaccine slots are available or let them know when the next slot is available in real-time.
Digital payments giant Paytm has also launched a ‘Covid-19 Vaccine Finder’ tool, which is integrated inside the app to help citizens check the availability of vaccination slots for a specific date. The vaccine finder tool is available on Paytm’s mini-app store that was launched last year.
Users need to enter postal codes or district name, select their age groups. In case of unavailability, click on the ‘notify me when slots are available’ option to get real-time alerts.
Global tech giant Facebook has partnered with the Indian government to launch their vaccine tracker that can help the users locate nearby vaccination sports on the social media platform’s website and mobile app. The vaccine tracker tool will allow users to discover and nearest vaccine centre locations and their hours of operation as shared by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MoHFW).
The tracker will also aggregate walk-in vaccination options for people above 45 years of age, along with a link to register on the CoWin portal and schedule a vaccination appointment.
Bengaluru-based healthtech startup HealthifyMe launched Vaccinateme.in, which uses the CoWin API to check for vaccine slots. The platform comes with the typical age and location and vaccine type (Covishield or Covaxin) filters. The site can be accessed on the web or through smartphones, although HealthifyMe recommends the latter because of the notification feature.
Bengaluru-based enterprise tech company Signzy has created a solution to allow users to get notified about available vaccine slots nearby. The users can simply check for slot availability or subscribe to get a notification by sharing their email address, postal code, year of birth and phone number (optional).
The Under45.in website is developed by programmer Berty Thomas to help people aged between 18-44 find Covid vaccine slots and open vaccination slots nearby. The site now directs users to a Telegram channel for updates, given that the official CoWin APIs have been limited by the government. The Telegram channels are created for each district, so for instance, those living in South Delhi are directed to the ‘U45 South Delhi’ Telegram channel.
Indian School of Business alumni Shyam Sunder, along with few others friends, had developed a website called getjab.in to help users get alerts when vaccination slots are available nearby. One can simply sign up by sharing their name, district and email ID and the app notifies users on email.
FindSlot.in is another platform that helps users get alerts when vaccine slots are available nearby. It uses the CoWIN APIs to allow users to search by district or postal code to find the nearest open slot.
While the solutions mentioned above are trying to make vaccination slot tracking for the seekers, the Indian government in its latest CoWin app guidelines have made it even more difficult for third-party tools to operate.
The guidelines updated on May 5 state that “appointment availability data is cached and may be up to 30 minutes old, making real-time notifications redundant. So while many platforms might show an open slot, the real on-ground situation is very likely to be different in each district.