Last Updated on March 8, 2022
As the Coronavirus continues to spread around the globe, approximately 59.4 million cases have been reported in the United States alone. During the initial stages of the pandemic, staying safe was the top priority, with promises of vaccine development as quickly and safely as possible. In early 2021, the development of three different covid vaccines came to market, helping mitigate the serious risks of covid. Unfortunately, supply issues posed a significant threat to the nation, with shortages of vaccines causing significant delays in getting the population vaccinated.
Those qualifying for vaccines were unable to book an appointment in a timely fashion. Online websites were inundated with appointment requests, having users wake up exceptionally early to try and secure a timeslot for their vaccine. For those unable to access the online portals, attending a vaccine clinic and waiting was the next best option. Many individuals spent hours in vaccine clinics, hoping for an extra vaccine. The concept of booking a vaccine was nearly impossible for the average American. After all, most people can’t spend hours a day waiting for a potential vaccination.
Unfortunate Waste of Vaccines
For many pharmacies, grocery stores, clinics, and facilities, having the daily schedule meant preparing the necessary vaccines ahead of time. An individual clinic could see hundreds of patients daily, making for a long preparation. For some people, double booking appointments to get the immunization quicker meant taking valuable spots from others. This situation only compiled onto the shortages, as the staff was left with a surplus of vaccines set to expire before administration the following shift.
Any surplus at a clinic meant extra vaccines that were unaccounted for. Staff members would frantically try to fill the positions as quickly as possible, hoping to get the vaccine into someone’s arm before it found its way into the trash. While some centers were successful in filing the appointments, those unsuccessful clinics had to dispose of the surplus.
Why were covid vaccines thrown out?
The mRNA technology used in the vaccine requires a cold environment to keep the efficiency levels satisfactory. mRNA breaks down rapidly and quickly, making it challenging to work with. As such, the vaccine must be kept in cold storage (approximately -100 degrees Fahrenheit) before thawing for injection. Once the vaccine is removed from cold storage, it must be used within a specific timeframe. For some vaccines, the refrigerated shelf life is five days before degradation occurs. While this might seem like a long time, in the medical setting, it’s difficult for timing purposes.
When a vaccine dose gets closer to the expiry, clinics are faced with two choices: use it or lose it. Seeing the predicament many clinics were facing, Dr. B’s founder, Cyrus Massoumi, wanted to mitigate the vaccine loss. As such, he created a universal standby system for COVID-19 immunizations.
How did Dr. B’s Program Work?
The website worked as a virtual standby list – like those waiting standby in an airport. Individuals registered for notifications from nearby clinics with available timeslots. When notified, they had to confirm or decline the appointment (often set for the same day). If they could attend, they would receive the vaccine from the clinic. If not, the time slot would go to the next available participant on the list.
Clinics uploaded their daily surplus of immunization to the website, including the approximate expiry of the medication. Once uploaded, the site’s algorithm would automatically send out notifications to individuals meeting the specifications for their state. All participants were categorized according to risk and state guidelines to ensure no one received a vaccine out of priority sequence.
How much does Dr. B cost?
While the website indicates the company is for-profit, the platform is free for clinics and citizens to register. There are no fees to receive notifications, and a clinic will never pay for posting excess vaccines.
Is the website secure?
The company currently offers bank-level encryption on its website for anyone registering for the standby list. This Dr. B review indicates privacy is a core concern of Dr. B. The company won’t sell, share, or disclose your personal information with outside parties. While the company isn’t mandated or governed by an external government agency, they hold themselves to the same privacy laws as the medical industry.
A Startup Company that Offers Significant Value
Despite starting the company in early 2021, Dr. B quickly gained traction with individuals wanting to find a covid vaccine. During the registration process, Dr. B had nearly 2.5 million participants register for the standby service. Additionally, over 755 different clinics around the country joined the network to minimize waste. Dr. B indicates that over one million vaccine notifications were sent to waiting individuals, connecting them with a nearby clinic with an available appointment.
The vaccine availability has significantly improved since the initial rollout, giving most Americans the opportunity to receive their immunization. Dr. B is currently closed for new registrations but doesn’t intend to close permanently. The company hopes to continue addressing loopholes in the healthcare industry, closing the gaps between accessibility and treatment. Dr. B has shown that it’s not the size of the business wanting to help but the commitment to improving the lives of Americans that makes the most difference.