The head of the government technology platform said that companies such as Paytm, Infosys and MakeMyTrip are seeking approval in India to provide online COVID-19 vaccine booking services because the country is trying to make it easier for its large population to book vaccines.
The government relaxed regulations last month, may allow third-party apps to provide vaccine reservations, and regained control of state procurement after delays and shortages. It also faces initial problems with its vaccine booking platform.
RS Sharma, the head of the government group that manages the CoWIN vaccination registration platform, told Reuters that about 15 state agencies and private companies, including Indian healthcare giants Apollo and Max, and online pharmacies 1mg, have requested permission to provide vaccine booking services. .
The digital payment application Paytm supported by SoftBank has more than 100 million monthly active users, and MakeMyTrip has 12 million. Their popularity is believed to provide more options for Indians who wish to order COVID-19 vaccines, especially when they are struggling on unfamiliar government platforms.
“This will benefit the country, and the union of all entities is better than a single platform,” Sharma said.
Rajesh Magow, CEO of MakeMyTrip, said the company hopes to help people book vaccinations. 1mg means it is waiting for government approval. Apollo declined to comment, while Paytm, Infosys and Max did not respond to Reuters’ inquiries.
Only 3.5% of India’s 1.3 billion people have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and health officials said that the pace must be accelerated to avoid further fatal surges of the virus, just like the virus that swept the country in the spring.
Although much depends on the increase in the supply of scarce vaccines, experts say that more booking options should help. Some software developers have used publicly available codes on the CoWIN platform to create tools that send telegrams to help people book slots.
“Now, even if you find a slot to use alerts, you still have to visit the government website and follow many steps. Compared to CoWIN, the company will be able to provide a better user experience,” said software developer Berty Thomas. Telegrams have been designed to inform people about slots.
Paytm has also enabled notifications on its app.
Sharma said that the supply of vaccines should improve in the future and praised the CoWIN platform, saying that at least three African countries-Zambia, Nigeria and Malawi-had asked whether to use it for their own vaccination activities.
“We will provide them with a portal for free, and they can customize it. This is highly scalable,” Sharma said.
© Thomson Reuters 2021
Disclosure: Paytm’s parent company One97 is an investor in TechnologyShout.