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CoWIN Slots Get Exhausted Within Seconds, Captcha Slows the Booking Process

CoWIN slots have become a cause of worry for thousands of citizens as 150 slots get booked in a matter of seconds on the platform

CoWIN slots have opened for citizens in the age group of 18 to 44. However, 150 CoWIN slots are getting booked in a matter of seconds, which has become a cause of concern for thousands of people who are trying to book appointments for COVID-19 vaccinations in India. As soon as a slot is shown to be available, citizens trying to book the appointments are given the message that “This vaccination center is full for the mentioned date”.

“CoWin portal is showing sometimes 1 or 100 slots for 18+ many a times a day but when we try to book, it is showing slot not available. Kindly start the slots or correct  portal to display proper information,” says Archit Jain. As 150 CoWIN slots get exhausted in less than ten seconds, several citizens have raised concerns of scripts auto-booking the slots as well.

“Sir, we feel bots are auto-booking CoWIN slots on the website. 93 slots got filled up in seconds. Atl east allow walk-in registration and hospitals to manage on first come first serve basis similar to 45+ registrations,” says one such citizen on Twitter.

“Sir I believe your intentions are good but don’t you think people are miss utilizing the API. Now they have developed scripts to book the slot. Within 1 second all the slots are getting booked. If this continues technical people will book all the slots,” asks Neha on Twitter.

However, the Government of India says that auto-booking is not possible on the CoWIN platform as a new CAPTCHA feature has recently been introduced. RS Sharma, CoWIN chief, has in fact challenged anyone to display how a script can book CoWIN slots. “We have not opened the Registration and Booking for third parties as yet,” he said.

Nevertheless, the CAPTCHA feature seems to have slowed people down as by the time the characters are entered, the appointments are booked. “Getting slots is like a treasure hunt, who will solve the captcha and get the OTP the fastest will get the slot,” says Pinkesh Panchal. “Captcha has been recently introduced to book the slot which is very time consuming and flawed. When you enter a Captcha it says its wrong, and by the time you enter the correct Captcha all the slots are booked,” said Ramdas Shegaonkar to Dataquest.

Citizens, due to these problems, have also been requesting the Government of India to allow walk-in for COVID-19 vaccination for the 18 plus age group as not everyone is tech-savvy. “I was vaccinated today and I will admit that I was extremely lucky to book a slot through cowin. Not everyone below 45 is tech savvy. No one should be forced to book an appointment before visiting. This is a public health issue, not a hackathon,” says Nambi PV.

However, walk-in registrations have currently been disallowed due to fear of over-crowding at centres. “Currently, walk-ins are not allowed for 18+ as a precautionary measure to prevent crowding at the vaccination centres,” says RS Sharma.

4 comments

  1. Mnu

    Yes, there is something happening while booking slot. It is not possible for any human to book Al slot in a second. It takes at least 10-15 second to complete whole process to book the slot. I don’t know that whether the portal allows the hospitals to upload data for booking the slot with the beneficiary name directly, using admin rights but there may be possibility that either slots are being booked via bot or through direct upload. There is need to audit the portal transaction and audit report should be published in public domain.

  2. Amar

    It is true, as a software engineer I can surely say that they are bypassing the captcha for auto booking the slots..no human can book the slots with in millinseconds…I have opened the app and saw 300+ slots in a pin code , it took just 20 seconds for me to enter the captcha and enter the submit button…the message says all the slots are booked. Even if everyone is trying to book those same 300 slots at the same time it will take at least 2 min to go through , this is a scam….govt should make sure to put an even secure way to prevent these people

  3. Manju

    Yes it seems like bots are booking the slots and even enabled to key in the captcha. The government needs to be updated with what is going on and address these vulnerabilities immediately, else allow walking.

  4. Surendra Khaire

    I am also having very bad experience of slots booking on cowin website.
    Tried multiple times or you can wasted lots of time in booking slots for myself and family.
    But I am unable to book single slot.
    all the slots are saying booked that when we se 100 150 200 slots free within seconds all shows booked.

    Government should provide some alternative like walk in slot booking similar to 45+ age group.

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