Firms offer to help India with vaccine bookings
June 12 2021 12:17 AM
India covid vaccine. (Reuters)
A Representative photo. (Reuters)

Reuters/ Bengaluru

Paytm, Infosys and MakeMyTrip are among companies seeking approval in India to provide online Covid19 vaccine bookings, the head of the government’s tech platform said, as the country tries to make it easier for its huge population to book shots.
The government relaxed rules last month to potentially allow third-party apps to offer vaccine bookings and has taken back control of procurement from states following delays and shortages.
It also faced initial problems with its own vaccine booking platform.
Around 15 state agencies and private companies, which also include Indian healthcare giants Apollo and Max, and online pharmacy 1mg, have asked to be allowed to offer vaccine bookings, R S Sharma, head of the government’s panel managing the CoWIN vaccination registration platform, said.
Softbank-backed digital payments app Paytm has more than 100mn monthly active users and MakeMyTrip has 12mn.
Their popularity is seen providing more options to Indians looking to book their Covid-19 shots, particularly if they are struggling with an unfamiliar government platform.
“It will work in favour of the country, the union of all the entities is better than just one individual platform,” Sharma said.
MakeMyTrip CEO Rajesh Magow said the company wanted to help people book their vaccination slots. 1mg said it was waiting for government approvals.
Apollo declined to comment, while Paytm, Infosys and Max did not respond to queries.
Only 3.5% of India’s 1.3bn population has been fully immunised against Covid-19 and health officials say the pace will have to ramp up to avoid further deadly surges of the virus, like the one that swept the country in the spring.
While much will depend on a pick up in scarce vaccine supplies, experts say more booking options should help.
Several software developers have already been using publicly available coding for the CoWIN platform to create tools that send Telegram alerts to help people book slots.
“Right now, even if you find a slot using alerts, you have to still go to the government website and follow many steps. Companies will be able to give a better user experience compared to CoWIN,” said Berty Thomas, a software developer who had designed Telegram alerts for notifying people about slots.
Paytm too has enabled a notification feature on its app.

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