24-year old Soumya Sethi, a resident of Thane, Mumbai was confused why she was receiving messages from the National Health Portal about the COVID-19 vaccine a month after she was fully vaccinated. On reading the message, she realised that her number was registered by a person in Tamil Nadu and she had received their vaccine certificate for the first dose.
The product manager shared this message on social media and was surprised to know that many of her Instagram followers experienced the same ordeal. CoWin permits four people to register on one number. However, many people found that their numbers were misused and were registered for unidentified individuals from different parts of the country.
Sethi was fully vaccinated on September 1, while she received the vaccine certificate on October 6. Sethi has shared the message, her vaccine certificate, as well as the vaccine certificate of the person from Tamil Nadu with BOOM. BOOM is only sharing the text message Sethi received.
These are not the only glitches faced by users while using COWIN. BOOM looked for the CoWin fraud hashtag and found several instances of people sharing their experiences which varied from some not receiving OTPs for their vaccination, receiving messages saying they were already vaccinated when they were not, and receiving vaccine certificates for those who had lost their lives. The most prevalent "fraud" that people reported was their mobile numbers being misused for other people's vaccination.
These issues have resulted in several people also questioning the Indian government's claim of having administered over 115 crore vaccine doses. Twitter users are trending a hashtag #CoWinfraud to highlight their problems.
Unknown Registrations On Mobile Number.
In March, the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare specified that vaccination would only be possible after booking a slot on the CoWin portal. Even when it later permitted walk-in vaccinations, the ministry stated that the certificates will only be available after registration on CoWin.
Post this, many people shared screenshots on Twitter of receiving certificates of people they did not know.
A Twitter user who has chosen not to get vaccinated as he was already COVID positive shared that his number was used to register and vaccinate three people on the same day.
BOOM asked Sethi (mentioned at the beginning of the story) if she could remove the extra person from Tamil Nadu. "We wrote to CoWin and they have an option to remove the person on the website. When I confirmed it, they removed the person."
Sethi also added that she wanted to bring this to the notice of the people and also wants to know what happens to the people who received the vaccine but do not have the certificate to prove it.
Post registration, when the person goes to receive the vaccine on the allotted slot, they are supposed to receive a 4 digit code that they have to share with the administrator. This allows the administrator to validate and verify their identity.
However, patients who walk-in aren't always asked to share this code. BOOM spoke to another Mumbai resident Sunita Bhoir who received her second dose as a walk-in.
"My first dose was a paid one and I got a code. For the second one which was free and I walked in, I did not get any code for verification, " Bhoir shared.
Certificate Without Receiving Dose
Many Twitter users also reported receiving their vaccine certificates without having taken the dose, yet.
Another Twitter user Free Wheeler is yet to take the second shot but since the person received the vaccination certificate, they have been using it for travelling as their work expects that from them.
Fully Vaccinated Certificates For The Dead
Another Twitter user brought a shocking incident to light when he shared that six months after his father died, his family received a fully vaccinated certificate for his father.
BOOM has reached out to the National Health Authority to understand how the numbers of certain citizens are being misused. We are yet to receive a reply and the story will be updated when we receive their response.