Google has rolled out new updates to Search and YouTube in India to surface information related to Covid-19 vaccination and registration through the official CoWin app for users in the country. The tech giant will also soon point users to critical resources such as hospital beds and medical oxygen using crowd-sourced information on Google Maps.
The new features have come in at a time when there is a massive surge in Covid cases in India, with daily confirmed cases rising over 400K last week. Google added that it has partnered with charitable organisations and crowdfunding platforms including GiveIndia, Charities Aid Foundation India, GOONJ, and United Way of Mumbai to raise funds for these relief efforts. This campaign has raised over $4.6 Mn (INR 33 Cr) to date, the company claimed.
Questions about vaccines on Google Search will show users information panels on vaccine safety, efficacy and side-effects, as well as direct them to registration on the CoWIN website. “You will also find information about prevention, self-care, and treatment under the Prevention and Treatment tab, in easy-to-understand language sourced from authorised medical sources and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,” Google said.
On YouTube, the company is adding a set of playlists that will show content related to vaccines, preventing the spread of Covid and other facts from experts. Further, searching for vaccines in Google Maps or Google Search will show over 23,000 vaccination centres across the country, in English and eight Indian languages.
“We know that some of the most crucial information people are searching for is the availability of hospital beds and access to medical oxygen. To help them find answers more easily, we’re testing a new feature using the Q&A function in Maps that enables people to ask about and share local information on availability of beds and medical oxygen in select locations.”
Besides Google, platforms such as Twitter and Facebook are also sharing similar information with users, highlighting the various vaccination-related news stories and information more prominently. Tech giants have also launched vaccine tracker tools to ease the search for a open vaccination slot in metros and large cities.