Startups fight COVID-19: Paytm launches COVID-19 vaccine finder to help users track slot availability real-time

Fintech giant Paytm launched COVID-19 Vaccine Finder on its Mini App Store. The vaccine finder helps citizens track slot availability and receive real-time automated alerts when new slots open via Paytm Chat.
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Fintech giant Paytm on Thursday announced the launch of COVID-19 Vaccine Finder to help people track vaccine slot availability real-time for over 780 districts in India.

With the launch of the COVID-19 Vaccine Finder on its Mini App Store, Paytm says it wants to ensure "maximum numbers of citizens benefit from the service, get vaccinated in a timely manner and avoid crowding at the vaccination centres."

Since May 1, India's COVID-19 vaccination programme was expanded to include everyone above the age of 18, but reports of shortages of vaccines at many vaccination centres have slowed the immunisation drive in many states.

Through Paytm's COVID-19 Vaccine Finder platform, people can check the availability of vaccination slots for a specific date by individually entering different PIN codes or district details along with the age group, either 18+ or 45+.

If no slots are available at the time of their search, users can opt to receive real-time automated alerts from Paytm once a slot frees up. This removes the need for users to refresh the platform repeatedly to check for new slots.

"We have introduced a new feature to find COVID Vaccine slots in the nearby locality and set up alerts when new slots open up. We believe that with the combined efforts of the government, organisations, and citizens, we are on the right track to recovery. Our priority is to build collective resistance to the deadly virus as a nation, thus catalysing the process of herd immunity," says a Paytm spokesperson.

Paytm says the data is sourced real-time from the CoWIN API. The CoWIN portal allows users to manually check for slot availability and book appointments for COVID-19 vaccination. However, the booking API for CoWIN hasn't been made available to the public yet, and as such, users will still have to book an appointment on the CoWIN app.

Like Paytm, several other tech startups and developers have come up with their own vaccine trackers, after the National Health Authority, which is the nodal agency running the CoWIN platform, selectively opened up parts of CoWIN application programming interface (API) to the public.

Entrepreneur and Google Developer Expert Amit Agarwal created Labnol, an open-source Google Sheets script that tracks vaccine availability and enables email alerts. Chennai-based Berty Thomas, who works as a business analyst at a global investment bank, has developed a website called under45.in, which allows users to search for slot availability by district or state. Meanwhile, Mumbai-based data scientist Bhavesh Bhatt developed a Python script that checks for available vaccination slots; he later converted this into a website.