Google to Show COVID-19 Vaccine Information; Testing Feature to Show Availability of Hospital Beds, Oxygen

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.

google covid 19 vaccine india image Google Search  Google  COVID 19

Google Search has started providing COVID-19 vaccine information in India
Photo Credit: Google India

 

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.


Why did LG give up on its smartphone business? We discussed this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Later (starting at 22:00), we talk about the new co-op RPG shooter Outriders. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you get your podcasts.

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Twitter Announces Updates to Ease COVID-19 Resource Searches in India

Twitter is bringing updates to its platform to help those people who are seeking assistance amid the coronavirus pandemic. As a large number of Twitter users in India are asking others for information on hospital beds, oxygen, medicine, and food, the microblogging platform has launched a COVID-19 SOS: Resources page that will update in real time to inform people about the essentials they need. Twitter is also starting to show a prompt in the timeline of its users with links to sources providing information about COVID-19 vaccinations. Separately, there are various third-party tools that let you quickly find where you can get essentials such as beds, medicines, and oxygen to fight the ongoing crisis.

On Monday, Twitter announced that it has introduced the COVID-19 SOS Resources page in India that will show tweets providing details about essentials such as hospital beds, medicines, and oxygen in real-time. It is aimed to amplify SOS calls and help people looking for important resources. The COVID-19 SOS Resources page is also visible in India through the Explore tab.

Additionally, Twitter announced that starting this week, users will see a prompt on their timeline that will link to sources about the safety, efficacy, and news of COVID-19 vaccinations from various public health experts. This change will be available to Twitter users globally in the coming days. A panel with similar information is already visible in the Explore tab under the COVID-19 section, called ‘COVID-19 Vaccines: Know the facts’. Information in this panel is said to have been verified by official sources including the World Health Organization (WHO) about COVID-19 vaccines.

Twitter has also brought a COVID-19 India Live page that provides livestreaming from official sources providing updates on the pandemic. The Explore tab will also have a page called ‘COVID-19: How to protect yourself’ that will show tips and thoughts about how you should protect against the deadly virus.

In addition to the updates, Twitter has started educating people about how they can use the advanced search functionality on the platform to find details about essentials. The company tweeted the information on Tuesday in Hindi to reach a wider audience in India.

 

You can use advanced search on Twitter to find a particular hashtag, phrase, or keyword. You can also add keywords that you want to omit from your search results. Similarly, there are options to include certain accounts that you want to be a part of your search. You can also select a particular date set within which you are looking for any particular search results.

By using advanced search, you can find details about a particular resource, such as a medicine or oxygen concentrator. You can also switch to the Latest tab after using the advanced search to look for the newest tweets about the searched topic.

Third parties have also made Web-based tools that fetch results from Twitter in real time using its APIs. These tools include https://covidtools.in/ and http://indiacovidresources.in/ that allows you to find some of the recent tweets from people sharing details about essentials including hospital beds, oxygen, medicines, and food.

However, it is important to note that the information shared by third parties is not always verified. It has also been noticed that due to massive demand, the leads available on Twitter may not help with the resources required every time.


Why did LG give up on its smartphone business? We discussed this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Later (starting at 22:00), we talk about the new co-op RPG shooter Outriders. Orbital is available on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and wherever you get your podcasts.

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