Sonu Sood launches volunteer programme to facilitate COVID vaccination registration in rural India

The initiative will onboard volunteers through its website

sonu-sood-insta via Instagram

Bollywood star and philanthropist Sonu Sood, on Friday, launched a new initiative COVREG that aims to create the world's biggest volunteer programme for COVID-19 vaccination registration in rural India.

The initiative, powered by fintech major Spice Money, will onboard volunteers through its website, a statement said.

"Once the volunteers register for the initiative, they will be provided with an app to help with COVID vaccine registrations for about 95 crore Indian rural population, comprising over 65 per cent of the total Indian population," it added.

Spice Money will provide the technological expertise for building the app.

Currently, Spice Money provides a redirection to the CoWIN platform through its Adhikari app and web portal, which have been utilised by more than 2 lakh Adhikaris based in rural India to help register their customers for COVID-19 vaccination.

COVREG has been authorised by the ministry of health as an application service provider (ASP), with protected CoWIN APIs, the statement said.

"This will be the first ASP-enabled B2B app that allows for an assisted model in COVID vaccination registration in rural India," it added.

COVREG volunteers will work towards eliminating vaccine hesitancy by educating the beneficiaries and busting common myths around it. They will register rural citizens and book slots for both the doses of vaccination and follow up to ensure people reach the vaccination centres.

They will also be trained to address any issues, such as a lack of ID proof, wherein they will assist the beneficiaries in applying for a PAN card online.

The statement said that Spice Money's network of more than 5 lakh Adhikaris (banking correspondent agents) and partners, covering 95 per cent of the rural pin codes in India, will be leveraged as COVREG volunteers to maximise reach in rural villages.

Also, the volunteers currently working with Sonu Sood Charity Foundation will be part of the COVREG volunteer network, it added.

The foundation further aims to recruit a large number of volunteers to specifically support the initiative.

Ek Soch Foundation, a partner organisation, will be responsible for on-ground volunteer management.

Vaccination is the need of the hour in India to win the battle against COVID-19. Rural India continues to struggle in coping with the pandemic and is now also struggling with vaccine registrations.

“So, COVREG is created based on a detailed understanding of rural India and their needs observed through months of on-ground work," Sood said.

The trust that a neighbourhood volunteer warrant will be an additional push towards registration, he added.

“To address the challenges faced by rural citizens to register for vaccination, we have created this assisted model of COVREG wherein volunteers will handhold rural citizens throughout the vaccination journey, facilitating bookings for both inoculation doses," Dilip Modi, founder of Spice Money, said.