The Co-WIN digital platform has performed exceptionally during the COVID vaccination drive

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has dismissed as "misleading" and "completely ill-informed" reports in the international media alleging a “vaccination fraud”.

The reports have claimed that people are being fraudulently registered as double vaccinated without receiving both doses. These reports have also alleged that the vaccination “figures were being manipulated”.

Rejecting these reports, the health ministry on Thursday came out with a detailed statement explaining how the vaccination process works and pointing to the many sfeatures in the Co-WIN system that is used to record all the information.

The headline of the said news report itself is misleading, the ministry maintained.

"The authors perhaps are not aware that it is the health workers themselves that enter vaccination event data in Co-WIN system. The claim of the authors that the very health workers who enter the data have alleged irregularities, indicates that the authors do not have any understanding of the processes of vaccination event recording on Co-WIN," the ministry pointed out.

Describing India’s nation-wide COVID vaccination drive as the largest such drive globally, the health ministry said it is supported with a strong technology backup provided by Co-WIN digital platform that has performed exceptionally in the last more than one year of the COVID vaccination drive.

"All the COVID vaccinations are recorded in this digital platform," the ministry said.

The Ministry went on to provide the following information on Co-WIN features and safeguards against lapses:

Co-WIN system is an inclusive platform / system and has been designed keeping the limitations and challenges of mobile and internet availability across the country. Necessary features and flexibility, to ensure that every eligible individual has the access to vaccination, regardless of any of physical, digital or socioeconomic barriers to access, have been incorporated in Co-WIN.

At the same time, SOPs and features have been incorporated to prevent fraudulent and/or wrong data entry at time of vaccination as follows :

Every vaccination team has a verifier whose sole purpose is to establish the identity of the beneficiaries coming for vaccination.

* The vaccination process has the following steps before a beneficiary is recorded as vaccinated in CoWIN:
Schedule – This can be online or onsite.
Verify – Only the scheduled beneficiaries (online or onsite) go to the next step of verification where in the verifier establishes the identity of the beneficiary as per the details entered in CoWIN.
Vaccinate – The beneficiary is marked as vaccinated only if a successful verification is done by the verifier/vaccinator.

* For onsite registration and first dose vaccination:

The verifier/vaccinator at time of verification of any beneficiary who comes for 1st dose or onsite registration needs to enter the OTP sent on the mobile number which is provided by the beneficiary.

There is an option to do a Adhaar based authentication if Adhaar is provided.

In case the other photo ids are provided the verifier/vaccinator has the option to capture the picture of the photo id proof.

* For onsite 2nd dose:

The verifier/vaccinator can search the beneficiary from CoWIN database using name, beneficiary id (generated from CoWIN only), registered mobile number as per the details provided by the beneficiary.

Post successful verification, the beneficiary needs to provide her/his year of birth and secret code which is available only on the beneficiary dashboard and the SMS sent to the beneficiary.

* SMS notifications are sent to beneficiary at every stage:

At time of online/onsite registration.

Intimation of due date of 2nd dose/precaution dose vaccination.

Confirmation of vaccination.

Rejection for vaccination with reason.

The health ministry said these features empower the verifier/vaccinators to establish the identity of the beneficiary at time of verification before marking the beneficiary as vaccinated.

Despite the above enablers, there might be cases where vaccination team may overlook the SOPs leading to error in data entry and recording leading to cases where a beneficiary is marked vaccinated without being administered the vaccine.

"Due to the system of SMS communication with beneficiaries through CoWIN, such cases are immediately reported through the grievance addressal mechanism. On receiving such complaints, the details of the vaccination team and CVC where such cases are reported are sent to the concerned state officials for taking necessary corrective action," the ministry pointed out.

Furthermore, the beneficiaries have been empowered to make necessary corrections in their records on CoWIN.

The “Raise an issue” module in beneficiary dashboard allows the beneficiaries to make following corrections apart from changes in basic demographic details like name, age, gender and photo ID:

Merge two Dose #1 certificates.

Report unknown member registered in “my CoWIN account”.

Revoke vaccination – From fully to partially vaccinated, and from partially to not vaccinated.