According to the head of the government’s tech platform, Paytm, Infosys, and MakeMyTrip are among the companies seeking authorisation in India to enable online COVID-19 vaccination bookings, as the country strives to make it easier for its vast population to book shots.
Last month, the government eased rules to allow third-party apps to make vaccine appointments, and it regained procurement control from states after delays and shortages. It also had some issues with its own vaccination booking platform at first.
According to R.S. Sharma, head of the government’s panel supervising the CoWIN vaccination registration platform, over 15 state agencies and private enterprises have applied to be authorised to offer vaccine bookings. These include Indian healthcare giants Apollo and Max, as well as online pharmacy 1mg.
Paytm, a digital payments app supported by Softbank, has over 100 million monthly active users, while MakeMyTrip has 12 million. Their popularity is seen as giving Indians additional choice when it comes to booking their COVID-19 injections, especially if they are unfamiliar with the government platform.
“It will benefit the country because the union of different entities is better than a single platform,” Sharma added.
MakeMyTrip CEO Rajesh Magow stated that the company wished to assist individuals in scheduling vaccination appointments. 1mg stated that it was awaiting permission from the authorities. Reuters reached out to Apollo, Paytm, Infosys, and Max for comment, but they did not respond.
Only 3.5 percent of India’s 1.3 billion people have been fully immunised against COVID-19, and health experts believe the pace must pick up to avert more deadly outbreaks like the one that swept the country earlier this year.
While much will depend on an increase in scarce vaccine supplies, experts believe that more booking alternatives will be beneficial. Several software developers have already created apps that send Telegram alerts to assist consumers reserve slots using publicly available coding for the CoWIN platform.
“Even if you use alerts to discover a slot, you must still go to the government website and complete numerous processes. In comparison to CoWIN, businesses will be able to provide a better customer experience “Berty Thomas, a software engineer who created Telegram alerts for slot notifications, remarked.
Paytm has added a notification option to its app as well.
Sharma predicted that vaccine supplies will improve in the future and commended the CoWIN platform, claiming that at least three African countries – Zambia, Nigeria, and Malawi – have expressed interest in using it for their own immunisation campaigns.