Nearly 1.3 crore Indians registered themselves online on the government’s dedicated portal Co-Win Wednesday for the mass vaccination drive set to begin on May 1.
Nearly 1.3 crore Indians registered themselves online on the government’s dedicated portal Co-Win on Wednesday for the mass vaccination drive that is set to begin on May 1. However, a lot of them literally struggled to get themselves registered and complained about the technical problems they faced while trying to register themselves on the Co-Win portal. Some of them even complained that the portal was not responding while others said that it had crashed.
All this happened at a time when the country`s toll from the coronavirus surged past 200,000 on Wednesday, worsened by shortages of hospital beds and medical oxygen. The second wave of infections has seen at least 300,000 people test positive each day for the past week, overwhelming health facilities and crematoriums and prompting an increasingly urgent response from allies overseas sending equipment.
At this juncture, India`s best hope is to vaccinate its vast population and on Wednesday it opened registrations for everyone above the age of 18 to be given jabs from Saturday. But the country, which is one of the world`s biggest producers of vaccines, does not yet have adequate stocks for the estimated 600 million people becoming eligible, on top of the ongoing effort to inoculate the elderly and people with other medical conditions.
People who tried to sign up said they failed, complaining on social media that they could not get a slot or they simply could not get online to register as the website repeatedly crashed. "Tried registering and blocking a slot for vaccination," said one user on Twitter. "Failed multiple times," said another. Even those already eligible were struggling to find doses. It may be noted that Co-Win registration began with an announcement that appointments at state government centres and private centres will depend on how many centres are ready on May 1 for vaccination of 18-plus beneficiaries.
Many state governments have already said that may not be able to begin the drive on May 1 as they are still short of supplies. Another major roadblock is the high number of people registering themselves for vaccination.
As the situation stands, COVID-19 jabs are currently available in private hospitals only for 45-plus people till the end of the month. Thereafter the Centre-supported vaccine rollout for this category will be available only in government hospitals.
The Centre has recently announced that states, private hospitals and corporates can access 50% production of Covishield and Covaxin for the 18 and above category. The Centre aims to allow states to increase leeway in planning drives and create incentives for vaccine manufacturers to boost production. The higher price at private hospitals will also allow those who can pay to reduce the load on government facilities.
RS Sharma, National Health Authority CEO, has clarified why this is happening and when people will be able to book appointments. Speaking to news agency ANI, Sharma said, “Some States and hospitals may come on board on May 1 or later, therefore, the visibility into the bookings/vacancy available for vaccination will be available when States, hospitals come on board.”
On issues related to Co-Win registration, the Union Health Ministry on Wednesday clarified that the media reports that the server has crashed “are incorrect and are without any basis”. The Ministry said that it witnessed more than 80 lakh people registered themselves on the portal, with 3 hours from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm on Wednesday.
It added that the portal received 383 million API hits, initially as high as 2.7 million hits per minute and a total of 1.45 crore SMSs have been successfully delivered.
The Health Ministry highlighted that vaccination is a critical component of India's containment and management strategy in its fight against the Covid pandemic.
"A liberalised and accelerated Phase 3 strategy of Covid-19 vaccination will be implemented from May 1. Registration for the newly eligible population groups commenced today from 4 pm. Potential beneficiaries can register directly on the Co-WIN portal (cowin.gov.in) or through the Aarogya Setu app," the Ministry said.
The government claimed that the Co-WIN software is a robust, dependable, and agile technology that offers any registration for Covid-19 vaccination anytime.
"The capacity of the servers and other parameters have been ramped up to match the unprecedented scale of immunisation so that the Co-WIN system can provide citizen-centric services. Inclusivity, speed and scalability have been kept in mind while designing the unique digital platform with all components being portable and synchronous without excessive and unnecessary dependencies," the ministry said.
The Ministry also categorically denied reports suggesting that the Co-WIN platform was unresponsive/overshooting the server capacity and was not able to respond to the unprecedented number of registrations taking place.
People registering on the platform are mostly the age group of 18 to 44 years. Vaccinations will begin on Saturday for everyone above 18 from May 1 (Saturday) under a more "liberalised and accelerated Phase 3 strategy of COVID-19 vaccination". Those who want to take the vaccine are to go to - https://www.cowin.gov.in/home and click on the "register/sign-in" option.