"From Registration To Certification...": PM's CoWIN Praise Amid UK Row

The Prime Minister's CoWIN callout comes amid tension between India and the UK over the latter requiring Indians to self-quarantine for 10 days on arrival, even if they have been double vaccinated

New Delhi:

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday praised the CoWIN platform - the government's centralised digital service provider and records-keeper for COVID-19 vaccination appointments and certificates, declaring "from registration to certification, no system is as massive".

The Prime Minister underlined that India had administered over 86 crore vaccine doses since the inoculation drive began in January, and credited the CoWIN platform with a "big role".

"Vaccinations for everyone (have been made available) under the free vaccine campaign... India has been able to apply about 90 crore vaccine doses... CoWIN has a big role in this," he said.

PM Modi was speaking today at the launch of his government's flagship medical welfare scheme - the Ayushman Bharat Digital Mission, a key component of which is a unique ID for every citizen to which all their personal medical and health records can be linked.

The CoWIN callout comes amid tension between India and the United Kingdom over the latter requiring Indians to self-quarantine for 10 days on arrival, even if they have been double vaccinated.

The UK had said Indians vaccinated with Covishield - made by AstraZeneca and Oxford University and sold there as Vaxzervria - would be "unvaccinated", meaning they had to self-isolate on arrival.

The advisory triggered an outcry in India, with the UK accused of "vaccine racism". The government called it "discriminatory" and said it reserved the "right to take reciprocal measures".

The UK then revised the advisory, noting "formulations of the four listed (i.e., recognised in the UK) vaccines, such as AstraZeneca Covishield, AstraZeneca Vaxzervria... qualify as approved vaccines".

Many in India, however, were unconvinced, particularly since India still did not figure on the list of countries whose vaccines were approved, meaning Indians were still required to self-isolate.

Separately, UK officials cited "vaccination certification issues" as the reason for keeping India off that list, suggesting there were concerns over the CoWIN platform.

Those concerns were met with a firm statement from the government last week.

National Health Authority CEO RS Sharma said there were "no issues on CoWin with certification" and pointed out that the entire system is compliant with World Health Organization standards.

"The UK High Commissioner visited me on September 2. They wanted to understand the system... technical aspects... A resource has been allocated and two further conversations have happened with their team. These were technical-level conversations," Dr Sharma told NDTV.

Since then, though, it has emerged that in Madhya Pradesh - during the big push for record vaccinations on the Prime Minister's birthday - people who did not receive a vaccine were somehow issued certificates, as were those who had been dead for months.

The state government's response was to dismiss these as a "clerical error".