.Co-WIN app meant for administrators, vaccine registration to be done via portal — Govt

This was clarified by the ministry amid reported glitches in doing registrations as India opened up vaccination for senior citizens and those aged 45 and above with comorbidities.

The Union Health Ministry said on Monday that the Co-WIN app on the Play Store is meant for use only by administrators, and that registration and booking for an appointment for COVID-19 vaccination has to be done through the portal.

This was clarified by the ministry amid reported glitches in doing registrations as India opened up vaccination for senior citizens and those aged 45 and above with comorbidities.

“Registration and booking for an appointment for #COVID19 vaccination are to be done through #CoWIN Portal: www.cowin.gov.in. There is NO #CoWIN App for beneficiary registration. The App on Play Store is for administrators only,” the ministry tweeted.

The government had announced on Wednesday that everyone above 60 years of age and those over 45 years with comorbidities will be able to get the COVID-19 vaccine from March 1 for free at government facilities and for a charge at many private hospitals.

Citizens can register and book an appointment for vaccination, anytime and anywhere, using the Co-WIN 2.0 portal www.cowin.gov.in or through other IT applications such as Aarogya Setu. There is also a walk-in provision for the beneficiaries to get themselves registered at the nearby session site to get vaccinated, it said.

The eligible beneficiaries can choose the center of their choice and book an appointment based on the slots available.

All citizens that are aged or will attain the age of 60 or more as of January 1, 2022, are eligible to register, in addition to all such citizens that are aged or will attain the age of 45 to 59 years as of January 1, 2022, and have any of the specified 20 comorbidities.

Citizens can register at the Co-WIN portal through their mobile number, said the ministry as it also released a user manual to handhold the citizens to register and schedule an appointment for vaccination, according to a guidance document issued by the ministry.

A one-time password (OTP) verification will be done before registration to ensure the veracity of the mobile number and after registration, an account will be created on Co-WIN for the person.

The person can access (login) account on Co-WIN using the mobile phone number used at the time of registration. Features for adding beneficiaries, editing their details, and for booking an appointment(s) will be available in the citizen’s account, the document stated.

The citizen can delete only beneficiaries as have been added by him/her.

“If one out of the four beneficiaries registered in an account is vaccinated, only three registrations are left, and so on.

“Till the time of vaccination, all the records of registration and appointment can be edited/deleted by the person making the registration. Only when a person gets vaccinated, the record is locked and cannot be edited/deleted,” the document stated.

A beneficiary then has to select the ID card type and provide the ID card number.

The photo ID card number for each such beneficiary must be different. Either of the following photo identity documents can be used by citizens for availing of online registration – Aadhaar card/letter, electoral photo identity card (EPIC), passport, driving license, PAN Card, NPR smart card, or pension document with a photograph.

If the age of the beneficiary is from 45 to 59 years, the beneficiary will be prompted to confirm if he/she has any specified comorbidity. In such cases, the beneficiary will also be advised to bring the comorbidity certificate signed by a Registered Medical Practitioner.

Once all the necessary details are recorded by the beneficiary, registration is completed, and an acknowledgment (registration slip/token) will be sent to the beneficiary on his registered mobile number.’

Dr. Samiran Panda, head of ICMR’s epidemiology department, also told that ICMR publishes all its research findings, including data related to Covaxin.

Considerations for decision-making differ during “extraordinary times” such as the Covid-19 pandemic, said Dr. Samiran Panda, a top scientist from the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), on the clearance granted to Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin — India’s indigenous Covid vaccine.

Covaxin, developed by Bharat Biotech and the ICMR, received a “conditional nod” by the Drug Controller General of India (DCGI) on 3 January, despite no efficacy data and incomplete Phase 3 trial data.

In an interview with ThePrint, Panda, head of the epidemiology and communicable diseases division at ICMR, said, “Considerations for accelerated approval of a vaccine in pandemic-time demand a different level of ability to bring various pieces of evidence on the table and make a sense out of it.”

He added: “Requirements also differ concerning evidence for decision-making during extraordinary time vis-a-vis business as usual.”

“The provisions in the New Drugs and Clinical Trial Rules published on 19 March 2019 allowed for such innovation,” said Panda.

What is clinical trial mode’? 

While giving the ‘conditional nod’ to Covaxin, DCGI’s Dr. V.G. Somani had said, “The Subject Expert Committee (SEC) has reviewed the data on safety and immunogenicity of the vaccine and recommended for grant of permission for restricted use in an emergency in the public interest as an abundant precaution, in clinical trial mode, to have more options for vaccinations, especially in case of infection by mutant strains.”

However, several public health experts have raised questions about the meaning of the phrase ‘clinical trial mode’.

According to Dr. Panda, who is also the director of ICMR’s National AIDS Research Institute (NARI), which executed the World Health Organisation’s Solidarity Trial in India, restricted use in emergencies will observe rigorousness that is similar to clinical trials

“This will entail informing a potential vaccine-recipient in detail about the vaccine, obtaining consent before vaccine administration, monitoring adverse events for a longer period of time as well as ensuring due support to the individuals encountering adverse events, etc,” he said.

It is worth noticing, he said, that “the Phase-III clinical trial with the same vaccine will concurrently continue an interim analysis, as well as end-of-trial analysis of this phase, will inform future decisions about the restricted use”.

‘Public data fosters trust’

Panda further reiterated that early phase results of Covaxin are available in the public domain for anyone to examine.

When asked if ICMR plans to publish the data used for the approval, Panda said, “In line with the principles of open and transparent practice, ICMR puts its research findings in the form of pre-prints and will continue to do so.”

He also agreed that publishing data in the public domain builds trust among the community and encourages people to take vaccination shots.

“Explaining science to the people on the street and explaining scientific issues and findings in an easy language is of utmost importance as public health is about people,” the ICMR scientist told ThePrint.

“It is therefore imperative that people remain at the center of and remain engaged in all public health discussions. Science should be practiced transparently, discussed loudly, and disseminated widely,” he added.

‘Covid vaccine bouquet welcome situation in India’

India has already approved two vaccine candidates, Covaxin and Serum Institute of India’s Covishield. However, there are several other vaccine options available in the country that are awaiting approval and trial completion — the ZyCoV-D manufactured by Zydus Cadila, Russia’s Sputnik V that is being manufactured by Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, SII’s NVX-CoV2373, a recombinant protein antigen-based product by the company Biological E and an mRNA-based vaccine by Genova Biopharmaceuticals.

According to Dr. Panda, multiple Covid vaccine options reflect a “welcome situation for any country”.

“The more arsenals we get in our stock against an organism, the merrier – particularly when a microorganism appears as a new threat to humankind and infects a large number of individuals within a short period of time,” he said.

However, Panda said, analyzing the bouquet of vaccines and understanding what India needs is key.

“From a public health perspective, one needs to also consider the utility of a particular vaccine in a specific country-context as well as in terms storage, distribution, and administration logistic requirements,” he said.

He added that India’s edge throughout the pandemic has been its “proactive leadership in implementing evidence-based public health measures, committed and very well-trained scientists as well as the ability to innovate in a trying time.”

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