Google on Monday announced that it has rolled out new updates to Search in India to show people information related to COVID-19 vaccine and its registration. The US-based company is also testing new features on Google Maps to help users in the country find critical resources such as hospital beds and medical oxygen using crowd-sourced information amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. Google has also said that it has been helping non-profit organisations including GiveIndia, Charities Aid Foundation India, GOONJ, and United Way of Mumbai raise funds.
One of the most prominent updates that Google has provided on its platforms to support the ongoing COVID-19 fight in India is with respect to Google Search. When users ask questions about vaccines on Google Search, they are being provided with different information panels that show updates on vaccine safety, efficacy, and side-effects, along with information about registration. The search giant also gives a link to the government’s CoWIN portal to let users register for the COVID-19 vaccine.
In addition to latest updates on vaccines, Google Search has also started showing information about prevention, self-care, and treatment for the deadly infection under the Prevention and Treatment tab when searching for COVID-19. The details are sourced from authorised medical sources and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
Last year, Google provided a similar experience to help users find their nearby test centres. It also recently featured a Doodle on its homepage to encourage COVID-19 vaccination.
Aside from bringing vaccine updates and information on Google Search, Google has also created a set of playlists on YouTube to provide authoritative information about vaccines, preventing the spread of the coronavirus, and facts from experts on COVID-19 care. These playlists are accessible through the YouTube India channel.
Google Search and Google Maps have also been enabled to share locations of over 23,000 vaccination centres nationwide. This information will be available from the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare and in English as well as eight Indian languages. Up until now, Google was showing information about 2,500 testing centres in the country.
As many Indians continue to look for information about various resources related to the COVID-19 care online, Google said that it has started testing a new feature using the Q&A function in Google Maps, which will allow users to ask about and share local information on availability of beds and medical oxygen in select locations. The company, however, cautioned that the information will be user-generated and not provided by authorised sources, which means that will need to be verified.
Twitter also provided similar features that let users find appropriate resources shared by others on its microblogging site. Similarly, Facebook and WhatsApp also have many groups that help people find resources, such as hospital beds, medical oxygen, plasma donors, etc.
Google also recently started showing important safety messages, including as part of the ‘Get the Facts’ around vaccines campaign. These messages appear on Google homepage, Doodles, and reminders within the company’s apps and services.
Additionally, Google said that it is running an internal donation campaign to raise funds for non-profit organisations including GiveIndia, Charities Aid Foundation India, GOONJ, and United Way of Mumbai. The campaign has raised over Rs. 33 crores ($4.6 million) to date, the company has claimed.
Google Pay users have also provided a COVID Aid campaign to let individuals donate and help NGOs supporting those who are in need.
“As India battles this devastating wave, we’ll keep doing all we can to support the selfless individuals and committed organisations on the front lines of the response,” the company said in a blog post.
The latest wave of the coronavirus pandemic has significantly impacted India, with over 3,66,000 new cases and 3,754 fatalities reported just on Monday. The government last week expanded the COVID-19 vaccination drive in the country by allowing people between 18–44 years to get the shots. However, people are unable to book appointments due to the shortage of stock.
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