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Friday, 30 April 2021 | Pioneer

As young adults enthusiastically try to register for a jab, the system seems less than prepared

The maddening rush on the Co-WIN portal speaks volumes about the jitteriness among the young adults to book a slot for getting inoculated at the earliest. Within minutes after registration for the COVID-19 vaccination for those in the 18-44 age bracket was thrown open, the website crashed due to excessive load. However, it doesn’t surprise anyone as internet servers in India are known to have succumbed even during the university registration process. Anyhow, the first day recorded almost 1.33 crore registrations. It is a clear inkling that the task ahead for the Centre and the State Governments would be arduous, to put it mildly. Besides, in the backdrop of several States flagging the shortage of vaccines, the drive is unlikely to cover the population it is meant to before May 15, by when the States are expected to have a meaningful stock. The second wave of the Coronavirus tsunami has exposed the glaring incompetence and loopholes in our healthcare system which is now creaking under the weight of the pandemic. The ailing healthcare infrastructure is impacted by the sudden exponential rise in cases, shortage of medical oxygen and essential medicines like Remdesivir and availability of hospital beds. However, putting the blame squarely on the severity of the second wave and the pitiable state of healthcare setup would not be justifiable as it must be shared by the States for their lackadaisical approach and the Centre for its insouciance after the first wave had died down.

The time which could have been utilised for ramping up the infrastructure was wasted on making conjectures of defeating the virus. As a result, we were ill-prepared and the second wave overwhelmed us. Another matter related to the non-availability of vaccines was its differential pricing, which was a cause of concern for the States and other stakeholders but that has been taken care of in a limited way, for now. Be that as it may, only time will tell how the nation emerges from the throes of affliction, confusion and uncertainty. How grim the situation can turn after May 1 can be gauged from the fact that most hospitals in States such as Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi and West Bengal have showed non-availability of slots for those less than 45 years of age. During the second phase, most people simply walked into the vaccination centres for their jab without necessarily registering at the Co-WIN portal. So, the moot question here is: Are the Governments equipped and ready to handle such huge traffic at the vaccination centres in a short span? Also, it’s clear by now that the Governments have failed to rein in the black marketeers of medical oxygen and medicines when the demand is sky-high. With people hunting all around for COVID vaccines and the authorities claiming to have insufficient stocks, there’s no guarantee that these won’t be sold illegally at a premium by the corrupt doctor-trader-official-politician nexus, pushing these out of reach of the common man. With just a day to go for the third phase of the vaccination drive, the Governments must quickly clean up their act.

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