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Vaccine Appointment

Today Cowin.gov.in has the same scramble as the redmi 10-second sale at Flipkart. Those were marketing ploy to increases sales. Currently, this 10-second availability for vaccine slots needs the oppositeā€¦. The population needs reassurance that the supply-demand mismatch for vaccine and oxygen is under control. Hence thought of sharing 3 case studies.

Bajaj scooter had a 10 year-long waiting period. Landline telephone connection had a 15 year-long waiting period (that is when my grandfather, who had applied for the connection, lived in Rohini Delhi and was a government official which gives him some priority in the BSNL Queue.

In both cases, it was not that the demand was 10-20X times the production capacity, but a supply-demand mismatch of 10-15%.

At Nehru Hostel Mess of IIT Kgp, we had 150 spoons for 400 students which created an almost perpetual shortage of food. The queue for the spoon was never-ending. Solution.. mess committee purchased 25 additional spoons (not 250 that was the shortfall).

Lessons:

  1. Rather than giving same-day time slots, the government can issue slots for the next 7-15 days. This will increase the availability for slots by 7-15X. This will also relieve the pressure on the appointment booking system. If more/fewer vaccine slots are available, then the pool can be expanded over the subsequent days.
  2. 1/3 of the samples taken in Delhi towards the end of 2020 had antibodies. Which means that they no longer need the vaccine. And worse they might develop high fever and complications if given a jab. The current mad rush for vaccines is not giving citizens enough time to plan and take the required tests for the antibody. By giving appointments 1-2 weeks into the future, this stress can be relieved. This means the population can be inoculated faster (for the same number of available shots) and will have far lesser adverse reactions.
  3. Its human psychology. Everyone wants gold because it is valuable and scarce and not because it has any utility for the seeker. Scarcity leads to artificial demand and over-stresses the system. It does not cost anything to open the slots for 10-20 days in the future. However, it will eliminate the mad rush for a jab that we are witnessing today.

Today anxious folks are spending umpteen hours refreshing the https://www.cowin.gov.in/home screen in the hope to get an appointment slot for their vaccine dose. A futile login leads to more anxiety and more negative feelings. Sometimes its is the spirit and emotions that can make or break the situation. This long post is a humble request to the admin of the Cowin website to open up more slots in the future.

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