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Dr. B: How Leftover Vaccines Were Put to Use

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The Coronavirus spread rapidly across the globe, with approximately 59.4 million cases reported in the United States during the initial phase. Staying safe quickly became a top priority for Americans, with promises of vaccine development coming to market. Using mRNA technology, the covid-19 vaccine became available in early 2021. Three vaccine manufacturers were approved for human use, helping mitigate severe risks of the Coronavirus. Unfortunately, as cases surged worldwide, supply issues posed a severe threat to the nation. Shortages of vaccines posed significant delays in getting the population vaccinated.

Anyone qualifying for a vaccine could not find available appointments in a timely fashion. Many online websites were swamped with an influx of appointment requests, forcing users to wake up exceptionally early to attempt booking a vaccine slot. Those unable to access the online portals were forced to visit vaccine clinics and wait for a cancelation. Most individuals waited in clinics, hoping for an extra vaccine to open. The concept was beyond many Americans; after all, most people couldn’t wait hours a day for a potential appointment to open, online or in-person.

Wasted Resources

For many grocery stores, clinics, and pharmacies, a daily schedule meant preparing the vaccines ahead of time. A small clinic could see hundreds of people daily, making prep difficult. Some people struggle to find a time slot booked multiple times, taking valuable positions from others. The situation compiled further as many staff were left with a surplus of vaccines due to cancellations and no-shows. Many were set to expire before they could be administered in a subsequent shift creating a unique problem – finding an eligible candidate wanting the vaccine before the clock ran out.

Surplus vaccines in the clinic often meant the doses were unaccounted for. The staff frantically tried to fill the vacancies, hoping to administer the amount before the expiration. Although many clinics were successful, any dose unaccounted for had to be discarded.

Why Vaccines Were Thrown Away

Vaccines require a strictly cold environment to keep efficiency levels optimal with mRNA technology. Unfortunately, mRNA rapidly breaks down when removed from cold storage, making it exceptionally difficult to work with long-term. This breakdown requires all vaccines to be kept in cold storage, hitting temperatures of -100 degrees Fahrenheit, before thawing for use. Once removed from cold storage, the vaccine must be used within five days before significant degradation occurs. Although this seems like a long shelf-life, it’s a strenuous situation for timing purposes in a medical environment.

As the vaccine gets closer to its expiry, many clinics were forced with two decisions. Use the vaccine or lose the vaccine. Cyrus Massoumi recognized this dilemma immediately, developing Dr. B as a method of mitigating the loss occurring in standard healthcare settings. The platform functioned as a virtual, universal standby system for those requiring COVID-19 immunizations.

How Did Dr. B Function?

The website worked virtually by connecting those wanting the COVID-19 vaccine with clinics holding surplus doses. Individuals registered online for notifications from nearby clinics with availability. When someone received an SMS notification, they had the opportunity to accept the appointment or decline the timeslot. Anyone confirming an appointment time would notify the clinic, while cancelations would move the offer to someone else on the waiting list.

All registered clinics were responsible for uploading their daily surplus to the website directly, including the number of doses and the approximate expiration of the medicine. Once uploaded, the platform’s algorithm automatically sent notifications to individuals meeting the state specifications on vaccine status. Participants were categorized according to overall risk and general guidelines from the state to ensure no one received the vaccine out of priority sequence.

Massoumi developed Dr. B as a complimentary registration model, unlike other standby systems. Both clinics and interested individuals could register instantly without charge. There were no fees for receiving notifications or sending appointment confirmations. Likewise, a clinic was never charged for posting vaccine availability.

Understanding the Dr. B Website

Although the company isn’t mandated or governed by any external government agency, Massoumi holds the website to the same privacy laws as any company within the medical industry. The privacy policy confirms that the company won’t share, sell, or disclose any personal information. The company believed in offering high security, including bank-level encryption for anyone registering online.

Positioning Themselves as Industry Leaders

Although the company only started in early 2021, Dr. B quickly built traction amongst the medical community and those wanting to locate a covid vaccine. During the open registration, Dr. B held nearly 2.5 million registrations. Over the same time, over 755 different clinics across the United States joined the fight to reduce vaccine waste overall. Dr. B suggests that over one million vaccine notifications were sent to individuals, connecting citizens with nearby clinics.

Currently, Dr. B has closed the website to new registrations but doesn’t intend to close it permanently. The company believes in closing loopholes within the healthcare industry. More specifically, Massoumi recognizes the gap in healthcare access and treatment. More importantly, Dr. B highlights the influence a business may hold on Americans, improving the lives of many during a critical time.