Daily Vaccine Roulette Offers Dark Humor in Locked Down Mumbai

People wearing face masks register at counter as they wait for vaccination at BKC Covid hospital in Mumbai, India. (Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg)

Daily Vaccine Roulette Offers Dark Humor in Locked Down Mumbai

Every night around 8 p.m., the residents of Mumbai huddle around their phones and laptops. They’re trying to book coveted vaccine-appointments as doses run dry.

The daily drama has led to jokes and memes in the locked down city, which seems to have controlled a devastating wave of the coronavirus and is now desperate to protect its citizens from further infection.

Here’s how it plays out. First step, wait for the municipality to throw open registrations, which depends on how many vaccine doses local authorities manage to procure.

Next, log in to the government-run website and hit “search by pin code” until you find a center that has secured doses and will be open. Book a slot before others do. Savvier ones turn to external apps to help game the system.

The fastest-finger-first approach has led folks to compare playing the portal -- named Co-Win -- with the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, or Kaun Banega Crorepati.

The shortage of vaccines became acute after Prime Minister Narendra Modi -- initially under pressure for controlling the allocation of doses among states -- abruptly opened up the program and asked provinces to purchase their own share. He also simultaneously allowed everyone above 18 years of age to be injected, compared with only people over the age of 45 when the federal government had been procuring the vaccines.

The rush for doses created a bottleneck, with Indian manufacturers unable to immediately meet demand and import orders not yet realized. At the current pace, it will take a projected 2.8 years to cover 75% of India’s population with a two-dose vaccine.

Mumbai Seeks to Import Millions of Vaccines to Avert Covid Wave

The municipality is seeking to import millions of doses of the vaccine, Commissioner Iqbal Singh Chahal said in an interview Monday. State authorities have also urged Modi’s administration to allow them to develop their own apps for the vaccination program. Until then, though, its youth are left scrambling to win a slot via the daily vaccine lottery.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.