India is repurposing its COVID-19 contact tracing app and vaccination website


India is repurposing its COVID-19 contact-tracing app and vaccination website to address other health concerns in the South Asian country.

A senior official said Sunday that the Indian government is planning to use Aarogya Setu as the country’s standalone health app.

The app will offer residents the ability to book medical checkup appointments and verify the registrations with QR codes to avoid waiting in queues at hospitals, RS Sharma, the chief executive of the National Health Authority, the body that oversees implementation of the country’s flagship public health scheme, said at a public event.

Aarogya Setu, launched in 2020, has amassed over 240 million downloads, he said. The app was initially launched as a “temporary solution to a temporary problem.

Shortly after its launch, Aarogya Setu, which means “bridge to health” in Sanskrit, attracted some concerns from privacy advocates over the app’s tracking of individuals. New Delhi dismissed the concerns and said at the time that the so-called flaws were implemented in the app by design. Weeks later, it open sourced the app.

The Indian government is also repurposing its COVID-19 vaccination website, CoWIN, to serve the country’s universal immunization program.

The revamped site will allow individuals to locate and obtain mandatory vaccines covered by the national immunization program, including the polio drops, and attempt to help small-scale doctors use it as their health information management system, said Sharma, who previously oversaw the nation’s telecom regulator.

COVID Vaccine Intelligence Network, which is commonly called CoWIN, was introduced in January last year as the Indian government’s platform to keep a unified record of COVID-19 vaccination.


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