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It aims to ensure availability of enough jabs, reduce wastage and avoid stock-outs at inoculation centres

As India gears up to begin its vaccination drive on Saturday, the Covid-19 Vaccine Intelligence Network, or Co-WIN, is poised to play a crucial role in the delivery of the jabs. The tech platform will be used for rolling out and scaling up distribution systems for the vaccine in what is the world’s second worst-hit country by the pandemic. Mint delves into the network:

What is Co-WIN?

Co-WIN is an extension of the government’s electronic Vaccine Intelligence Network (eVIN), which was launched in 2015 for India’s universal immunization programme. It aimed to reduce wastage of vaccines through improper cold storage, avoid vaccine stock-outs at inoculation centres and ensure availability of enough vaccines for all targeted children and pregnant women. The UN Development Programme (UNDP), which helped build eVIN, along with the IT ministry developed an extension of the module as a comprehensive cloud-based solution for covid-19 vaccination in India.

While the main portal would be the website, the government is also planning to roll out apps for use by various administration officials, as well as for adverse events reporting. The government has said it will proactively help other countries who may want to use the system for their vaccination programmes.

How will Co-WIN help in vaccine distribution?

Co-WIN will be linked to existing IT platforms that are being used in the vaccination programme to allow complete end-to-end management of vaccine distribution. This includes tracking the transportation of doses from manufacturer to the beneficiary, maintaining digital records of vaccine stocks and remote monitoring of temperature at about 25,000 dedicated cold chain storage points through a smartphone app. Like eVIN, the new module will allow real-time information on vaccine stocks and storage temperatures across all cold chain points. However, unlike eVIN, the Co-WIN platform will also allow beneficiary registration, session microplanning, real-time reporting of vaccination and issuing of vaccination certificates.

How will the health ministry coordinate with states and other ministries for vaccine distribution?

The government has already sought a list of police officers and officials engaged in covid-19 containment, surveillance and associated activities. State officials have also been asked to create a database of the health facilities under them and link data on healthcare workers linked to these health facilities. A database of military and paramilitary personnel will be provided by defence and home ministries, while municipal workers’ information is being collated by the housing ministry. All this information will be fed into Co-WIN, and the health ministry will then decide on prioritization of the vaccine doses.

How will Co-WIN work in tracking delivery of vaccine to beneficiaries?

Data on most healthcare and frontline workers has already been populated onto Co-WIN. The session allocation, details of vaccination to the beneficiary, information about the next dose will be captured and communicated digitally. After both doses, a QR code certificate will also be generated which can be stored on the government’s DigiLocker app. In case of any adverse effect following immunization, there is a provision for real-time reporting through surveillance and action for events following vaccination (SAFEVAC), which has been integrated into the system. Other features include SMS in 12 languages, 24x7 helpline, chatbot assistance, etc.

What is the way forward?

With the Co-WIN system populated, the government will now be looking forward to vaccinating 30 million healthcare and other frontline workers from Saturday. However, it is still not known where the first doses of vaccine will be transported to and the number of doses, an aspect which will become clear this week. The next stage would be more crucial as 260 million people over 50 years of age and another 10 million below that age but with comorbidities have to be vaccinated.

While the government plans to use electoral data for vaccinating people above 50 years, there is still not much clarity on how those below 50 years will be identified. All this data has to still be filled into the Co-WIN system.

Another unanswered question is whether and how the system will be used if the vaccines are sold in the private market.

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