With over one million doses distributed within the United States, Dr. B promised to help connect individuals wanting a COVID-19 vaccine with clinics around the country offering extras. The goal was to minimize the number of doses that ended up in the garbage by alerting those waiting for a vaccine. It seems this distribution method was highly successful, especially at the peak of the vaccine rollout, when the vaccines were hard to come by.
At one time, the COVID vaccine was the scarcest resource on earth. Individuals struggled to find clinics with available vaccines, waitlists were in the thousands, and doctors simply couldn’t keep up with demand. As the pressures for vaccination continued, Dr. B. sent text messages to available people in hopes of helping them gain access to something otherwise wasted.
How are COVID Vaccines used?
Vaccines are sensitive biological substances that require strict temperature control to keep potency and efficiency. If exposed to temperatures outside their specified range, the product may not protect against the ailment.
Storing the vaccine depends on the manufacturer’s specifications. For the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, the storage environment must maintain an internal temperature between -112F to -76F before stocking the vaccine. For the Moderna vaccine, the internal temperature must stabilize at -13F to 5F. When appointments schedule for the following day, the clinic must thaw the correct number of doses before dilution (if needed) and place them in a refrigerator.
Most vials require a minimum of two to three hours to thaw and cannot be refrozen. That means once a vaccine comes out of the cold storage, it has to be doled out to patients or face dumping in the bin. Studies have shown that nearly 30% of all waitlisted individuals will cancel or “no show” their appointment, clinics threw large quantities of vaccines away.
Enter Dr. B – The Site Putting Vaccines into the Arms of Americans
As a New York-based start-up, the website wants to help remove the burden of finding a vaccine site while keeping the thawed vaccines out of the trash. The company works by matching vaccine providers with individuals within the area, still waiting for their Covid vaccine (particularly if they can get one at a moment’s notice).
Since launching in early 2021, over 2.5 million names have subscribed to the database. Upon registration, the platform collects the user’s name, date of birth, basic contact information, and any pre-existing medical conditions. The website then prioritizes details, putting high-risk individuals at the top of the waiting list.
How Does Dr. B Work?
As a Dr. B review, this platform created a free vaccine standby list for individuals in the United States interested in a COVID-19 vaccine. Government mandates developed this list before nationwide resources were available to the public, connecting vaccine providers with excess doses to those who desperately needed a vaccine. Participants on the waitlist are sorted by local rules and regulations over vaccine distribution while still giving providers better odds to minimize waste.
Through the shortage, having an orderly procedure was a welcome change to the previous systems in place. Some supermarket chains and pharmacies reported workers scrambling to find people interested in a last-minute vaccine. In other locations, hopeful candidates waited among the chaos at the chance of a cancellation. From the development time (with only two providers registered) to current distribution levels, over 700 vaccine providers in 44 different states joined forces with the standard waitlist system. As development for equitable distribution persisted, fewer vaccines were left expiring at the end of clinics – a positive impact for the medical community.
How Were Extra Vaccines Given Out?
Users wanting the vaccine were able to join the waitlist by registering online. From there, interested individuals were contacted in priority sequence whenever vaccines within their zip code became available. The proposition was simple, supply your personal information through the website, and Dr. B would search databases of vaccine providers for extra doses that needed to be used. Any matches would send a text message to the patient, with a 15-minute time frame to reserve the vaccine.
How many people did Dr. B Assist?
Almost 2.5 million people signed up for Dr. B with a promise of receiving notifications for leftover doses. According to the website, over one million people received the vaccine through their platform. This includes all individuals who registered, high-risk individuals, and those who received the vaccine outside of the government mandate.
Sending Notifications to Participants
After watching the waitlists continue to climb, Mr. Massoumi came up with the idea for the website, noticing a significant gap in service areas with wasted appointments. The creator saw an issue with vaccines being wasted due to expiration, despite millions being without vaccines. He recruited several engineers to build the platform, including the underlying database. Additionally, Amazon also donated web services to get the website functional. The goal was to minimize vaccine waste while getting the vaccine into the arms of many Americans who wanted it.
As Covid variants continue to spread worldwide, the United States has amassed nearly 818,000 deaths from the virus so far. Approximately 75% of all deaths have involved populations over 65 years. It is estimated that one in 100 older Americans has died from the virus. Experts predict that the new Omicron variant will potentially cause a wave of new cases as it starts spreading.
Studies have shown nearly 1 in 5 deaths caused by Covid could have been prevented by vaccination. Thankfully, websites like Dr. B have helped over a million people protect themselves from the Coronavirus. As the world continues to struggle with Covid and the new variants that emerge, it’s important to remember how far we’ve come in the battle with this virus –and how far we still must go.
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