The mammoth task of vaccinating a billion-plus population, many in far-flung areas and rough terrain, against Covid-19 was accomplished primarily on the back of the game-changing CoWIN platform launched on January 16, 2021.
The interface has become so successful that the government is now planning to repurpose the CoWIN platform for India’s Universal Immunisation Programme and other national health programmes while continuing with its current function of recording Covid-19 vaccination and issuing certificates.
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In History TV18’s documentary titled The Vial – India’s Vaccine Story, Prime Minister Narendra Modi spoke about the role played by CoWin in India’s fight against Covid-19.
“India is the only country where thanks to a platform like CoWIN, people could see where they could get vaccinated, what time they had to reach the vaccination centre so as not to overcrowd in queues. It gave details of when to take the second shot. Technology was ably used for it,” he said.
Frequently Asked Questions
A vaccine works by mimicking a natural infection. A vaccine not only induces immune response to protect people from any future COVID-19 infection, but also helps quickly build herd immunity to put an end to the pandemic. Herd immunity occurs when a sufficient percentage of a population becomes immune to a disease, making the spread of disease from person to person unlikely. The good news is that SARS-CoV-2 virus has been fairly stable, which increases the viability of a vaccine.
There are broadly four types of vaccine — one, a vaccine based on the whole virus (this could be either inactivated, or an attenuated [weakened] virus vaccine); two, a non-replicating viral vector vaccine that uses a benign virus as vector that carries the antigen of SARS-CoV; three, nucleic-acid vaccines that have genetic material like DNA and RNA of antigens like spike protein given to a person, helping human cells decode genetic material and produce the vaccine; and four, protein subunit vaccine wherein the recombinant proteins of SARS-COV-2 along with an adjuvant (booster) is given as a vaccine.
Vaccine development is a long, complex process. Unlike drugs that are given to people with a diseased, vaccines are given to healthy people and also vulnerable sections such as children, pregnant women and the elderly. So rigorous tests are compulsory. History says that the fastest time it took to develop a vaccine is five years, but it usually takes double or sometimes triple that time.
Narrated by renowned actor Manoj Bajpayee, The Vial brings to life the inside story of what went into producing the Covid-19 vaccine vial, unfolding the story behind India’s success in developing, manufacturing and delivering the Covid-19 vaccine in unprecedented timelines.
In the documentary, Dr RS Sharma, CEO, National Health Authority, said: “Unless it is done in a manner which is transparent, where the VVIP also looks at the same dashboard and platform as the poor man… that kind of information symmetry is very important.”
Dr Sharma had earlier said that around 50 countries, including Canada, Mexico, Nigeria and Panama, have shown interest in having a CoWIN-like system to run their vaccination drive and that India is ready to share the open source software free of cost.
CoWIN has also been lauded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation CEO Mark Suzman. “The CoWIN app that was used is a great global model that we think has potential to show how other countries, including in Africa, could take and develop their own interventions for, in this case, health,” he said.
Inside ‘The Vial’
The 60-minute documentary is the first to feature PM Modi where he speaks in detail about India’s victory over the coronavirus pandemic.
The Vial also chronicles the development of the Covishield vaccine -- from isolation of the strain at Pune’s National Institute of Virology to manufacturing billions of vials of two of the world’s most effective vaccine candidates in record time to cater to the country’s massive population.
It takes a closer look at some of the case studies that put the spotlight on the determination of the Indian government and health workers in making vaccines accessible to people even in the remotest areas, braving harsh terrain and landscapes.