About 15 state agencies and private companies, including health giants Apollo and Max, are seeking approval to provide online bookings, Reuters reports.
Paytm, Infosys and MakeMyTrip are among the companies seeking approval in India to provide online bookings of COVID-19 vaccines, the head of the government’s technology platform said, as the country seeks to make it easier for its huge population subject to blows.
The government relaxed the rules last month to potentially allow third-party applications to offer vaccine reservations and regained control of supplies from states after delays and shortages. It is also facing initial problems with its own vaccine booking platform.
About 15 state agencies and private companies, which also include Indian health giants Apollo and Max, and the 1mg online pharmacy, have asked to be allowed to offer vaccine reservations, RS Sharma, head of the government panel that manages the CoWIN vaccination registration platform told Reuters news agency.
The digital payment app supported by SoftBank Paytm has more than 100 million monthly active users and MakeMyTrip has 12 million.
Its popularity is seen as providing more options to Indians seeking to reserve their COVID-19 shots, especially if they are struggling with an unknown government platform.
“Working in favor of the country, the union of all entities is better than a single individual platform,” Sharma said.
MakeMyTrip CEO Rajesh Magow said the company wanted to help people reserve their vaccination slots. 1mg said it is awaiting government approval. Apollo declined to comment, while Paytm, Infosys and Max did not respond to Reuters requests.
Reuters said only 3.5 per cent of the 1.3 billion Indian population has been completely immunized against COVID-19.
India’s health officials say the pace should be increased to prevent further deadly sources of the virus, such as the one that swept the country earlier this year.
While much will depend on a collection of scarce vaccine supplies, experts say more booking options should help.
Many software developers have already used publicly available coding for the CoWIN platform to create tools that send Telegram alerts to help people reserve slots.
“Right now, even if you find a slot with alerts, you still have to go to the government website and follow a few steps. Companies will be able to give a better user experience compared to CoWIN,” said Berty Thomas , a software developer that had designed Telegram alerts to warn people about slots.
Paytm has also activated a notification feature in its app.
Sharma said the vaccination offer should improve going forward and praised the CoWIN platform, saying that at least three African nations – Zambia, Nigeria and Malawi – have asked about using it for their own vaccination units.
“We will give them the portal at no cost and they can customize it. This is highly scalable,” Sharma said.