CoWIN software suffers glitches, BMC says drive to resume after two days

. When the software was unable to create a list or message beneficiaries, Ward Officials began to call people on the list or send them messages. Some beneficiaries said that they received calls late on Friday, some as late as on Saturday at 10am

The technical glitches faced due to CoWin (Covid Vaccine Intelligence Network) on Saturday during the vaccination drive has led the civic body to resume the drive two days later, after Sunday and Monday, so that it has time to solve the technical issues.

“There were technical problems in the CoWin app on Saturday. Efforts are being made by the Central Government to address the problem. Digital registration of the beneficiary who received the vaccine is mandatory. However, the government had allowed offline registration today (Saturday) due to a technical problem. However, the government has directed that all further entries should be made through the app. In view of this, Covid 19 vaccination has been postponed for two days in Mumbai i.e., on Sunday 17th January 2021 and Monday 18th January 2021. Vaccination will resume as soon as the glitches are resolved.” The Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation said in a statement.

The vaccine drive will also not take place on Sunday in the state. Dr Pradeep Vyas, state health secretary, said, if technical issues related with Co-WIN are resolved by Sunday, the next round will be held on Monday or Tuesday. “In the meeting of union health ministers with all state ministers in evening, this issue of software was raised by many states. Government of India and UNDP are looking at solutions,” Vyas said.

Co-win developed by the Centre to monitor and track the inoculation process, acted as a dampener on the first day of the vaccine rollout in the city after a bulk of the centres in Mumbai and the state complained about the glitches that had rendered it unusable.

As the anti-COVID19 vaccination drive kicked off in the city on Saturday, most centres relied on manual handling of the process after multiple glitches rendered unusable CoWin (Covid Vaccine Intelligence Network), the new software created as a digital platform to monitor and record vaccine distribution.

Earlier, officials had said that automated text messages would be sent on Friday to those chosen to get the vaccine shot on the first day, informing them about their booths and timing for the immunisation process. But there were complaints from several districts that the messages were not going through to the intended beneficiaries.

In Mumbai, BMC had manually created a list of beneficiaries, distributed it to 24 Covid war-rooms, and asked each ward office to message beneficiaries under their jurisdiction. When the software was unable to create a list or message beneficiaries, Ward Officials began to call people on the list or send them messages. Some beneficiaries said that they received calls late on Friday, some as late as on Saturday at 10am.

“When multiple attempts on software failed, our ward officers manually sent a text message and called up each of the beneficiaries,” said Dr Gulnar Khan, medical officer in K West ward.

At Dr RN Cooper Hospital, while initially authorities insisted on being shown the SMS for entry into the centre, as it became apparent that few had received text messages, those manning the entry switched to verifying people against manual lists.

Officials said that the process of enlisting people for the vaccine had begun over two months ago with hospitals sending out a list of their frontline health workers to the BMC. Based on this, several lists were made to achieve a mix of health workers across designations and hospitals, to ensure that not all workers from a particular department or hospital would be away for immunisation on any particular day.

Apart from informing beneficiaries and making lists, CoWin is also to be used to build a database for scheduling the second dose of the vaccine for those who have already taken the first does. But with the app not working, this information will be entered in CoWin later.

“As the names could not be updated digitally on Day 1, a list has been made manually of all those who were given the vaccine. The hospital staff will update this information to the platform when the glitches are resolved,” said Cooper Hospital dean Pinakin Gujjar.

In some districts of the state, while the software was able to create a list of beneficiaries and notify them via a text, it was unable to open the list when the vaccination began on Saturday. Real time entries on the list would include registering the arrival of the beneficiary at the centre, her vaccination, any adverse events suffered by the beneficiary, and recording that the beneficiary was observed for 30 minutes.

“Since Co-WIN software was not working in all districts, we created a Google or Excel sheet and asked districts to update information there. The concerns about the app have been noted and we will hopefully resolve these issues before next vaccine session. We have also told districts to fill data offline and upload it on software later,” said Dr Archana Patil, Director, Family Welfare, Directorate of Health Services.

Traffic on the portal made its processing slow and the software could not be used for real time updates. On Saturday as 3,000 vaccination sites logged in at the same time from all over the country, including 285 sites in Maharashtra, the software appeared to have frozen up in many places. .

N Ramaswamy, director of National Health Mission, said they have noted the district level complaints. “We will be communicating this to the centre in video conferencing. But I cannot comment on the application’s working. It was designed and handed over to us by centre,” he said.

Dr Milind Chavan, a district level immunisation officer, said they have allocated officials to handle the Co-WIN software. “Whenever there is immunisation planned, an official will create a ‘session site’ for vaccination on the platform and add names of beneficiaries. Through the app, the message will be sent on a registered mobile number. This time we directly selected institutions and all health workers under it were selected. We can also individually select beneficiaries,” he said.

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