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CoWIN bookings now possible on government, Jio-run WhatsApp chatbot; here’s how to book a slot

Taking around 14 steps from start to finish, the slot booking process is longer than doing it online and might not be suited for booking in areas that are still facing a scarcity of vaccines.  Vaccine appointments in India can now be booked through WhatsApp, Minister for Health and Family Welfare Mansukh Mandaviya announced on Twitter. NDTV first reported the announcement. The MyGovIndia Corona Helpdesk was developed in a public-private partnership with JioHaptik, a Reliance-acquired subsidiary that was previously called Haptik. The company works on AI chatbots among other things. Over 3 million people have used the MyGovIndia chatbot to download their vaccination certificates, WhatsApp CEO Will Cathcart said on Twitter (Abhishek Singh, CEO of the state-run MyGov, thanked Cathcart for WhatsApp's support in deploying the chatbot). The government is curiously among the last to take advantage of the CoWIN API — the code that lets third parties use its platform to provide linked services — by deploying it where it is likely to reach the widest audience — WhatsApp. Vi and Paytm were among the first to leverage the API to allow vaccine booking — even calorie tracking app HealthifyMe got in on the action. As one Twitter user said in a pithy missive, "Big tech arrives casually after the telegram bots have been exhausted," referring to the volunteer-run chatbots that have for months been alerting users on newly available slots. Long flow  MediaNama tried the MyGovIndia Corona Helpdesk to book a vaccine slot, and it turned out to…

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

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