India’s technology platform for coronavirus vaccination, CoWin, is being made open source and will soon be available to all countries, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday. Open source refers to software that is publicly accessible and free for anyone to use, modify and share.
Addressing the CoWin Global Conclave in Delhi, the prime minister said India has adopted a completely digital approach while planning its vaccination drive. “A safe, secure and trustworthy proof helps people to establish when, where and by whom they have been vaccinated,” he added. “Digital approach also helps in tracking the usage of vaccination and minimizes the wastage.”
To book a vaccination slot, users need to log in to the CoWIN website with their mobile phone number and get a one-time password, before searching for vaccine centres using an area code or district name. CoWIN is an extension of electronic vaccine intelligence network – eVIN – which is used to collect real-time feedback of the vaccination programmes.
Dr RS Sharma, chairperson of the Empowered Group on Vaccine Administration, had last week said that more than 50 countries have expressed interest in the technology.
But, health experts have flagged that online registration is leading to the exclusion of the poor who lack smartphones and access to the internet. In June, the Supreme Court had also said that the target of universal immunisation would be difficult to meet because of a digital divide between the rural and urban areas. But, the Centre, in an affidavit before the court, dismissed these concerns, saying that walk-in vaccinations for all ages was allowed.
Modi in his Monday’s speech said that the conclave was the first step to introduce the platform to the global audience. Through CoWin, he added, India has administered 350 million doses of Covid vaccines. “Furthermore, vaccinated people do not need to carry around fragile pieces of paper to prove anything,” he said. “It is all available in digital format.”