Tech savvy Americans use robots to get vaccines as new COVID-19 risk rises


As the vaccination rolls out in the U.S., many states have launched government-backed websites for citizens to register for the jabs. But most people have to rely on luck to find an empty spot on the waiting list.

However, for the few people who mastered computer programming, things can be much easier.

CGTN Digital found hundreds of computer scripts written to automatically check for vaccine availability on open-source code storage platform GitHub.

More than 800 computer programs shows up in the search result for "COVID vaccine" on as of March 23, 2021. /Screenshot from GitHub

More than 800 computer programs shows up in the search result for "COVID vaccine" on as of March 23, 2021. /Screenshot from GitHub

The high frequency of robots visiting vaccine websites may even bring the whole service down. Many local media in New Hampshire have already reported on the high network pressure on the state's new vaccine registration service.

Technically, there are many handy tools to prevent robot programs from taking advantage, for example, the "captcha" we come across on the internet every now and then. But some vaccine registration websites don't seem to be equipped with such tools, pushing normal internet users to download the script and join the technology competition.

Those who don't have internet access or can't use computers have to hope that not all vaccines can be ordered online.

"It helps to know a Python programmer," one NBC News report said.

Maybe they should learn how to avoid such unfairness from China's train ticket booking website, created by Alibaba.

CGTN Digital didn't test any of the scripts for morality concerns.

Risk of reopening

The U.S. government is fully aware of the risk behind a fast reopening. Head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warned on Monday that the country is heading toward another surge in COVID-19 cases, which could have been avoided.

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky made the comment at a White House COVID-19 Response Team briefing.

She said an average of 53,800 people were infected by the COVID-19 virus daily in the past week. Also, new variants of the virus are spreading rapidly, especially in the state of California, where more than half of the infections were caused by new variants.

With the massive scale of vaccination going on in the U.S., the surge could have been "avoidable," Walensky said.

"I get it. We all want to return to our everyday activities and spend time with our family, friends and loved ones," she said.

She noted that the new infection data can serve as a warning sign that the pandemic is not over.

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