India’s COVID vaccination management system ‘issued over 110M unique health IDs’
India’s biometrics-backed COVID vaccination management system, CoWIN (COVID Vaccine Intelligence Network) has issued 110,542,794 unique health IDs (UHIDs) as part of the government’s National Digital Health Mission (NDHM), according to freedom of information requests from MediaNama.
The government has been criticized for enrolling people into the NDHM through vaccination registrations, without their informed consent, thereby creating a digital health record which becomes part of government records, explains the Times of India.
Individuals authenticate their identity to CoWIN with biometrics to prevent fraudulent registrations. The Aadhaar Card is not mandatory and is just one of nine possible credentials Indians can use to register for a COVID vaccination via CoWIN, according to its website FAQs.
UHIDs are an entirely separate scheme, but “linking vaccination certificates and records to a Unique Health ID which is generated after vaccine registration through Aadhaar, has led the government to encourage the use of Aadhaar for vaccination registrations. As previously mentioned in some cases, it has also led to people falsely believing that Aadhaar-based authentication was mandatory to get vaccinated,” finds the MediaNama investigation.
The 110 million UHIDs issued via the CoWIN app make up the vast majority of what the outlet calculates as a potential total of 112 million so far generated nationally via other pilot schemes.
This is only the latest area of concern surrounding India’s handling of its vaccination program. Alarm was raised over what types of data the CoWIN app holds on users and the unauthorized use of facial recognition on people attending vaccination centers.