Once again panic over the COVID infection number in India has the government throwing a lot of resources into keeping people indoors, enforce lockdown etc. This may have yielded spread control results pre-vaccine. Now everybody knows the real solution lies in vaccination: continuous and quick.
I recently walked into a BBMP Primary Healthcare Center (PHC) for a jab. The queue was 5 people around 1:30 PM. It hadn't moved at all by 2PM. I checked inside, paper tokens were lying in a heap and not being dispensed leading the crowd to self organise outside. I found one person trying to fill in the details from a physical form onto the COWIN portal. This lone individual had been entering each persons details on a webpage without the help of a mouse. He kept flexing his fingers to relax, since the trackpad can be quite painful on the fingers. He didnt have any more people to help with the data entry and the webpage isnt built for quick keyboard shortcuts facilitating volume entries. By 2:15 the crowd had swelled to more than 15 and the waiting room indoors wasn't sufficient to hold any more people for the mandatory 30 mins post vaccination check.
It's been three months since India started its vaccination drive on Jan 16, 2021. The data of vaccinations for the BBMP region reports a total of 15,65,383 doses across 547 centres to date (the number of centres administering vaccine changes every day). Thats an average of 2862 vaccines per centre translating to 954 doses per center per month. At this rate, vaccinating 1.2 crore people in Bengaluru will take 2 years.
2.1% of the population who have taken the second dose are the ones who have effectively been vaccinated so far.
It was interesting to hear my friend relate how his house help thinks COVID is a rich mans infection. They havent heard the horror stories in their circles as much as we hear in ours. It’s borne out by this report a few days ago in April 2021, which indicates only 10% of the infections are from the slums in Mumbai while the maximum infections are in high rise apartments. Read with this report from July 2020, it might appear the slums reached herd immunity last year and all the lockdown did was delay the immunity for the apartment dwellers to this year. Is there a COVID class divide? Who will the lockdown hurt most?
I was able to get the vaccination and was out by 3PM after the post jab wait by when the crowd had swelled to 25 people. At the current rate of vaccination we will need to more than triple the number of centres (or people in the current centres), to 1677 so that 80% of Bengaluru can be vaccinated in 6 months.
While all the government officers are being marshalled for covid duty they shouldn't end up building a Rube Goldberg machine of people control. How many are focussed on vaccination? What are the targets on vaccination they are taking up? How will they manage with slow action on the ground? How will manpower, tokens, seating and people flow be managed at the centers? Can the targeting exclude people who have recently been infected so the others can take the shot first? These are probably good questions to ask. It would also help if city and centre wise data were available as open data for download and visualisation.