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CoWIN technology will be made available to other countries for free: RS Sharma

Although countries like Canada, Mexico, and the UAE have reportedly expressed interest in the technology, the CoWIN system is not without its flaws. 

India is ready to offer the CoWIN platform as a digital public good, free of cost to other countries that want it, RS Sharma, CEO of National Health Authority and Chairman of the empowered group for COVID-19 vaccine administration said.

CoWIN is the platform that is currently being utilised in India to implement the Covid-19 vaccination programme. It provides back-end facilities to health care facilities to manage vaccination stock and workflow, and a front-end facility for citizens to find and schedule vaccination appointments.

The code for CoWIN will be made open source without any intellectual property rights (IPR) attached to it and be given as gifts to countries that want an “orderly and transparent vaccination program”, RS Sharma added.

The government is hosting a virtual CoWIN Global Conclave on July 5 to share more details on how the system works including the design and architecture of CoWIN.

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RS Sharma tweeted yesterday that over 50 countries from across Central Asia, Latin America, and Africa are interested in the technology. “There’s no platform in the world, which has scaled to 300 million users and 100 billion hits in a matter of five months—CoWIN!” he added.

According to The Economics Times, countries that have expressed interest in the technology include Canada, Mexico, Panama, Peru, Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Nigeria, Uganda, Vietnam, Iraq, Dominican Republic, and the United Arab Emirates.

But CoWIN has its flaws

Favours the tech-literate: Earlier in May, we wrote about how the CoWIN system allows the tech-savvy to gain an upper hand in finding vaccination slots using bots. Even without these clever hacks, the CoWIN system largely favours the tech literate. If countries with low tech literacy adopt this system as it is, it will result in many citizens being left behind because of the digital divide.

Not all have documents to prove identity: In countries that adopt the CoWIN system, especially developing ones, citizens might not be able to show a valid identity document, something that is required for a system like CoWIN to work effectively. This can result in many being denied vaccination because of the lack of identification.

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Privacy issues: The CoWIN platform collects and processes sensitive data of citizens. Although India doesn’t have a data protection law, the government at least has issued guidelines on how the platform should be used by third-party developers. In the absence of such guidelines in other countries, citizens’ data and privacy are at stake.

Tech has glitched and is premature: Tech Evangelist Sharat Chandra told The Quint that the tech still has bugs and glitches that need to be ironed out and it is premature to lend the tech to other countries. “The platform has not evolved to cover all kinds of vaccinations in the country. The government should use CoWIN for Mission Indradhanush, the government’s programme for vaccination for kids up to 2 years of age and pregnant women and then offer the tech to SAARC nations,” he added.

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