India opened COVID-19 vaccine registrations for everyone above 18 years on April 28 – three days before the next phase of inoculation. However, the platform to register for the jab, CoWIN website and its service integrated on the Aarogya Setu app seemingly faced a glitch on the registration day that hampered booking appointments for many users. Citizens had complained that the platforms were not pushing out one-time-passwords (OTPs), while some even faced 404 error. In an interview with NDTV, CoWIN and National Health Authority Chief Executive Officer RS Sharma claimed that the app did not crash last month, and it still works fine to aid citizens to book their vaccine slots. The same claims were made by Aarogya Setu the day CoWIN registrations opened for everyone above 18 years. The platform, in a tweet, had said that the “minor glitch” was fixed, and 18 plus can register.
In his recent interview, when asked whether the CoWIN platform crashed on April 28, Dr Sharma said, “If the platform crashed… How could you have in eight hours 1.37 crore registrations?… It [CoWIN] did not crash.”
Dr Sharma also claimed that 99 percent of OTPs get delivered within 15 seconds, but sometimes there’s a delay. The CoWIN platform chief did not clarify how some users faced 404 error. He further reiterated that the CoWIN portal saw 55,000 hits per second on April 28 and has been aiding every citizen with getting vaccines slots since then. Speaking over the lack of slots on the portal, Dr Sharma stated issues in booking slots for vaccinations are due to the gap in demand and supply of the vaccine.
The Indian government has also opened up CoWIN APIs to allow third-party developers to access information such as vaccination centres, list of districts, vaccination appointments among others, for their platforms. Several developers and researchers have already started using the APIs to aid Indian find available vaccine slots; however, the booking still works with the CoWIN website and Aarogya Setu app. Speaking over the security concerns over opening APIs, Dr Sharma noted that the platform remains safe and proper checks are in place. “That is not possible in this situation as every time you book an appointment, the OTP which comes to you, and that OTP cannot be scripted… Therefore the concern is not valid,” he added.
Meanwhile, an SMS doing rounds on Android phone claims that users can book slots via a new app. However, the message is fake, and the app contains malware. The PIB has also debunked this claim.