Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday praised the CoWIN platform – the government’s centralised digital service provider and records-keeper for COVID-19 vaccination appointments and certificates, declaring “from registration to certification, no system is as massive”.
The Prime Minister underlined that India had administered over 86 crore vaccine doses since the inoculation drive began in January, and credited the CoWIN platform with a “big role”.
“Vaccinations for everyone (have been made available) under the free vaccine campaign… India has been able to apply about 90 crore vaccine doses… CoWIN has a big role in this,” he said.
PM Modi was speaking today at the launch of his goverment’s flagship medical welfare scheme – the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, a key component of which is a unique ID for every citizen to which all their personal medical and health records can be linked and transported.
The Prime Minister’s CoWIN callout comes amid tension between India and the UK over the latter requiring Indians to self-quarantine for 10 days on arrival, even if they have been double vaccinated.
An advisory issued by the UK cited “vaccination certification issues” as its reason, after Covishield – developed in the UK, and made and sold there as Vaxzervria – was put on a list of approved jabs.
Concerns over CoWIN were met with a firm statement from the government last week.
National Health Authority CEO RS Sharma said there were “no issues on CoWin with certification” and pointed out that the entire system is compliant with World Health Organization standards.
“The UK High Commissioner visited me on September 2. They wanted to understand the system… technical aspects… A resource has been allocated and two further conversations have happened with their team. These were technical-level conversations,” Dr Sharma told NDTV.
The UK had initially not included India on a list of nations whose vaccines would be accepted as being on par with those administered there or in the EU, the US and 17 other countries.
The advisory triggered concerns in India,, where Covishield is the most widely used vaccine and its non-recognition by the UK (despite its government using the same drug under a different name) would hamper plans of students, tourists, businesspeople and others vaccinated in this country.
Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla called the decision “discriminatory” and said that India reserved the “right to take reciprocal measures” – meaning it would require UK citizens vaccinated with Vaxzervria to self-isolate as well – if the matter remained unresolved.
Last week the UK amended that advisory to say: “Formulations of the four listed (i.e., recognised in the UK) vaccines, such as AstraZeneca Covishield, AstraZeneca Vaxzervria… qualify as approved vaccines”.