Amazon Alexa Helps Users in India Find COVID Vaccination Centers Near Them

Alexa, Amazon's artificial intelligence technology, in India can now help users find COVID-19 vaccination centers near them

The latest function, which has been available on Alexa in the U.S. since late April, is among a host of new COVID-19-related features introduced by India's Alexa on Tuesday, Amazon said in a statement.

Some of the other new features include providing information about COVID-19 testing, vaccine availability and safety.

The COVID-19-related information provided by the virtual assistant is sourced from the CoWIN portal (the online vaccine booking portal of India's Ministry of Health and Family Welfare) as well as MapmyIndia, a technology company providing map services, according to the statement.

The vaccination center locating feature can be accessed by asking: "Alexa, where can I get a COVID-19 test?" Doing so will draw up a list of all the nearest vaccination centers as well as the travel distance.

"Alexa recognizes your location from your device registration and provides a list of all the vaccination centres near you," Amazon says.

Users who want to search for vaccination centers near others can do so by using the "Vaccine Info Alexa skill."

Amazon explains: "The skill will ask you for a pin code, as well as the age category to provide you with information.

"This can be extremely useful if you are helping friends and family book appointments," the company says.

If a vaccine is unavailable at the time the user does a search for vaccination centers, "Alexa can also set a reminder to check with the skill if the vaccine is available the next day. Just say, 'Alexa, open vaccine info,'" Amazon notes.

Other new COVID-19-related features on India's Alexa include providing the latest information on vaccination rates, which can be obtained by asking: "Alexa, how many people have been vaccinated in India?"

Amazon says: "Alexa will now answer all your queries related to vaccination," such as information about vaccine safety as well as provide the numbers for COVID-19 helplines in each state in India.

The aforementioned information can be obtained by asking: "Alexa, is COVID vaccine safe?" or "Alexa, how can I register for COVID vaccine?" or "Alexa, what is the COVID helpline number in [insert state]."

Amazon Echo smart speaker Alexa January 2021
An Alexa-enabled Amazon Echo Dot smart speaker seen in Lafayette, California in January. Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

Users can also make donations to Indian NGOs using Alexa. Amazon has partnered with NGOs including Akshaya Patra, Give India and Goonj "to make the process of donations easier," the company stated.

"Alexa will send an app notification and a SMS containing Amazon.in/donate link, where users can complete the transaction with their preferred NGO partner and the amount of their choice," Amazon explains.

The latest new features on India's Alexa come as total confirmed COVID-19 cases in India approach 31.8 million, with 425,757 total reported deaths, as of Wednesday, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.

India has the world's second-highest number of confirmed cases, after the U.S., which has reported over 35.2 million confirmed infections, as of Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins.

The seven-day average of cases as well as deaths in India began rising on a sharp incline from late March after declining and flattening out from around mid-September. Both figures peaked in May before flattening out from late June, according to data compiled by Worldometer.

More than 485.2 million vaccine doses have been administered in India, as of Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins. The country is home to 1.3 billion people, according to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency website.

A COVID vaccination mural in India.
A mural on the facade of the Tambaram railway station promote COVID-19 vaccination in Chennai, India on July 4. Arun Sankar/AFP via Getty Images

The Wider Picture

Coronavirus has infected more than 199.5 million people since it was first reported in Wuhan, China. More than 4.2 million people have died and over 4.1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, as of Wednesday, according to Johns Hopkins.

The graphic below, produced by Statista, shows the share of the population who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 in different countries.

COVID-19 vaccination rate worldwide
STATISTA