The Plague Year

America’s mistakes and the struggles on coronavirus tragedy continues…

srinivasan sankar
2 min readFeb 2, 2021

…and this time with vaccine distribution — the technology, the system and the data behind it.

Animation by Tyler Comrie

The CDC ordered software that was meant to manage the vaccine rollout. Instead, it has been plagued by problems and abandoned by most states. Millions of Americans have struggled to get vaccines through various chaotic systems. One such system is their brand-new, website called VAMS — the Vaccine Administration Management System, built by the consulting firm Deloitte. It was supposed to be a one-stop shop where employers, state officials, clinics, and individuals could manage scheduling, inventory, and reporting for Covid-19 shots — and free for anyone to use.

In May, CDC gave the task to consulting company Deloitte, a huge federal contractor, with a $16 million no-bid contract to manage “covid-19 vaccine distribution and administration tracking.” In December, Deloitte snagged another $28 million for the project, again with no competition. The contract specifies that the award could go as high as $32 million, leaving taxpayers with a bill between $44 and $48 million.

Faced with a string of problems and bugs, several states, including Massachusetts, are choosing to hack together their own solutions, or pay for private systems instead. MA chose PrepMod as the main vaccine management system for its rollout. PrepMod is an online clinic management & appointment scheduling system commercially developed in Maryland. This week as MA rolled out Phase 2, this system also saw clunky user interface, unreliable registration, and multiple flaws that made it unusable for many senior citizens.

Deloitte may be representative of a broken system, but it’s certainly not alone. CGI Federal, for instance, has landed over $5.6 billion in federal IT contracts since getting fired after its disastrous development of the website in 2013. Now it’s Deloitte Government $48 million VAMS. Even 8 years later no one in the Federal government, CDC has learnt from past mistakes and corrected themselves.

VAMS is the latest example of a broken system for building government technology. America’s heavily privatized medical system was held together by duct tape and bubble gum long before the biggest public health crisis of our lifetimes.

Think about the industries that have been transformed by technology — groceries and take-out food delivered in 1-hour — That’s a competitive advantage. That has not happened in American health care.




srinivasan sankar

Chief Data & Analytics Officer #CDO #CDAO|#AI #BigData #DataScience #Analytics #MachineLearning #NLP|#Politics #Movies #Reading|6x #SuperBowl #Patriots #RedSox