Where’s the IT power?The online booking system for Covid-19 vaccines broke down again. Complaints poured out over the state of the online booking system for Moderna jabs exclusive for people aged 53 to 54 from 8 p.m. Monday due to system errors and disconnections. How many more trials and errors does it take for the authority to get it right? The system crashing has been a problem since e-booking started last month. Even the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) raised concerns about the current online booking system.
During the booking period for 55 to 59 year olds starting July 12, the system crashed on the first day. The authority did not say ahead of time that it had secured just half of the vaccines needed for the age group. Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum apologized for the fiasco and promised a smooth process from then on. But reservations moved at a snail’s pace afterwards.
Authorities claim that slow connections are unavoidable since people log on at the same time. But IT experts find the excuse inexcusable. “The age group at best totals 1.5 million people. How a system cannot accommodate even that many people after several mistakes is beyond understanding,” fumed one expert. “More people log on for stock trades or game platforms, but there is no problem.” Poor preparation can be the only reason.
The system was also easily exposed to other irregular means. Some people were able to break into the system by resetting the time on their laptops. The design and security of the e-booking system at the KDCA could be seriously flawed. The Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute and the Korea Aerospace Industries were both attacked by North Korean hackers. If a public system can be easily tampered with, a massive leakage of personal information can take place. The KDCA must seek outside help before such a mishap happens again. The government also must not leave the affair entirely in the hands of the KDCA and must hire experts from the public and private sector as soon as possible.
People have to wait more than two hours in the middle of a heatwave to get Covid-19 tests due to a drmatic surge in infection cases. They also have to sit around for hours to book vaccine slots. Traffic is expected to increase further when booking opens for under 50s in August. Authorities must do all they can to prevent the confusion. It is the least they can do after being late in procuring vaccines.