Policy

CoWin registration for 18-44: Ratio of vaccine availability to people is 1:230, says Sharma

Monika Yadav New Delhi | Updated on May 17, 2021

RS Sharma

It’s the problem of availability vis-a-vis demand; platform has no glitches, says NHA chief

The Covid-19 registration challenges faced by those in the 18-44 age group on the CoWin platform are mainly due to vaccine availability issues rather than glitches in the platform, RS Sharma, Chief Executive Officer of National Health Authority and in-charge of CoWin platform, has said.

Dismissing talks attributing the challenges in registration to glitches in the platform, Sharma said, “as of now, more than 7.5 crore people in the 18-44 age group have registered on the platform against 13.75 crore who are 45-plus.

Total doses administered to those in the 18-44 age group over the last 12-13 days are about 30 lakh (the supply figure) against the demand of 7.35 crore. So, around three lakh people in the 18-44 age group have been vaccinated per day on average. The ratio of vaccine availability to number of candidates is 1:230. It’s the problem of availability of vaccine shots.”

Sharma told BusinessLine that “for orderly conduct of the vaccination, we need to have data on the number of people planning to visit the centres, so that Covid appropriate behaviour can be maintained; hence the need for a digital platform.”

Sharma also rejected the contention of some people that a large number of Indians will get left out of vaccination due to the digital divide being faced in the country as a result of several being technologically challenged.

“This whole talk of people getting left out is absolutely incorrect. It is important to note that if you go directly without registering yourself, you are not sure of getting a seat. It is like boarding a train without getting the reservation done,” Sharma said.

Rural drive

When asked how he was ensuring that maximum people in the rural areas get inoculated, Sharma said, there are 700 million internet users in India and one family has at least one smartphone through which four registrations can be done. “If people don’t have smartphones or computers, they can go to one of the 250,000 common service centres for registration. So this whole issue of digital divide raised by a certain section of urban people is unnecessary,” he argued.

On the issue of coders and programmers being able to block slots, Sharma said that most people do not succeed in getting a slot due to non-availability of vaccines, so these claims are not correct. “But yes, we have opened the search capabilities which makes it easy for people if they do an algorithm search,” he added.

New feature

Sharma also said CoWin platform will soon have a new feature to connect to the vaccination centre. He said CoWin has opened only two application programming interface (APIs) — one for searching for vacancies and the other for downloading the certificates. Both the APIs have helped.

Meanwhile, following the recommendations of the Covid working group on the extension of the gap between the first and second doses of Covishield vaccine to 12-16 weeks, the CoWIN digital portal has also been reconfigured to reflect this.

Published on May 16, 2021

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