Representational Image.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Representational Image.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Govt plans WhatsApp chatbot for Covid-19 vaccine queries

The project is at the pilot stage and is being used to respond to frequently asked questions (FAQ) about the vaccination
By HT Correspondent | Edited by Sameer | Hindustan Times, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 07, 2021 10:54 AM IST

The government plans to launch a WhatsApp chatbot to address queries regarding the Covid-19 vaccination, people familiar with the matter said. The queries can be sent on the number 9013151515 with the message “say vaccine”, they added. The project is at the pilot stage and is being used to respond to frequently asked questions (FAQ) about the vaccination.

Once the chatbot is fully developed and launched, people will be able to get information about the nearest locations where they can get vaccinated, the number of doses, and when they will need to be administered.

“The algorithms are done. We are just identifying the maximum number of possible queries before the launch,” an official said.

Also read | 15 more test +ve for new UK Covid strain, total 73

The Drugs Controller General of India on Sunday announced that it has approved Covaxin, Bharat Biotech International Limited’s locally developed vaccine for Covid-19, and Oxford University-AstraZeneca vaccine manufactured in India by the Serum Institute of India. The immunisation roll-out will begin with the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine.

The Centre has faced criticism for prematurely rolling out Covaxin without the completion of its phase III trials.

As per the chatbot’s FAQ section, the vaccine will be introduced in the country only after “regulatory bodies clear it based on its safety and efficacy”.

The 13-page document addresses key issues, including who will get the vaccine first, whether those who have recovered from Covid-19 need the vaccine, and how vaccines are chosen for administration. It underlines the vaccination is mandatory.

“Once the chatbot is fully functional, it will be linked to the Co-WIN app and be able to provide real-time data,” the official cited above said.

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