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India to track vaccinations with Aadhaar biometrics

facial recognition can identify people wearing masks

The Indian health ministry is directing states and union territories within the country to authenticate recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine via Aadhaar biometrics, in order to record “Immutable Vaccination Event Records (IVER)” in case of possible adverse effects, reports MediaNama.

Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan called Aadhaar the “most reliable authentication” system to track recipients, and RS Sharma, chair of the Empowered Group on Technology and Data Management, previously lauded Aadhaar’s value for filtering fraudulent vaccine applicants. Yet it is still possible for those without Aadhaar to sign up to vaccine waiting lists via helplines; being registered with Aadhaar is not mandatory for Indians.

Bhushan has claimed that technical issues facing CoWIN, the biometrics-backed coronavirus vaccine application, have been resolved, and stressed the importance of vaccinators’ competence in proper authentication of vaccine recipient identities. The functionality of CoWIN depends largely on Aadhaar; users are able to register for the app using their existing 12 digit ID number.

CoWIN (via Aadhaar) can verify individual identity through digital KYC using OTP, and via offline authentication, in case biometric authentication is not available or linked to the individual’s digital identity.

Approximately 11 percent of India’s population are not registered on Aadhaar (around 149 million people), and around 3.7 million citizens have been vaccinated so far, according to the Ministry of Health.

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