A newly launched web service called Dr.B is looking to change that by ensuring no leftover vaccines go to waste. The platform, which has over 1.2 million people signed up on its standby list, will send a text message when leftover COVID-19 vaccine doses are available at a healthcare provider near you.
Cyrus Massoumi, Dr. B co-founder and former CEO of Zocdoc, the online doctor's appointment booking website, told FOX Business about 20 to 30% of patients who sign up for COVID-19 vaccinations end up canceling or not showing up. As a result, thawed vaccine doses have six hours before they have to be thrown away.
Healthcare providers with excess doses or who receive no-show appointments simply tell Dr.B how many doses they have and when they expire, while the platform tracks down eligible patients.
"This is the scarcest resource on the planet at the moment and we’re all not going to be safe until the entire world is vaccinated and that’s going to take a couple more years," Massoumi told Fox Business' "Kennedy," "So we have to make sure that we make the most of every dose."
In order to sign up, individuals must be 18 years or older, reside in the U.S. and have a telephone number that can receive text messages or access to Google Voice. Eligible individuals include those who have not already received a dose of a COVID vaccine and who are able to both legally and medically receive the vaccine.
Dr.B will send an alert based on an individual's vaccine availability, priority group, and the signup order of people in their priority group. To determine a participant's priority group based on state and local guidelines, Dr.B will ask for a telephone number, name, email, zip code, date of birth, profession, and health conditions.
Once texted, a participant has 15 minutes to confirm that they can get to the provider, then two hours to reach the location and get their shot. Once the appointment is confirmed, Dr.B will send the name and address of the provider as well as instructions on what to bring, such as a photo ID.
Both Dr.B and the COVID-19 vaccine are free of charge. Healthcare providers will bill insurance companies, Medicaid and Medicare, or tap federal funds for the uninsured. Individuals may incur a copayment at the time of service. Questions about insurance copays, deductibles, or out-of-pocket expenses should be discussed with the provider at the time of the shot.
Massoumi noted that Dr.B has already accumulated patient sign-ups across all 50 states. While Massoumi expects to have 200 vaccination sites across 30 states in the coming weeks, Dr. B is currently only working with two medical providers in New York and Arkansas so far.
He argued that solving the logistics problems with COVID-19 vaccine distribution is "our generation's world war" and that while it is mainly a private sector initiative, it will take the United States' public and private sectors, as well as the rest of the world, to ensure that every COVID-19 vaccine dose is counted.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 95.7 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered in the United States as of Wednesday. More than 62.4 million Americans have received at least their first dose, representing approximately 18.8% of the population, while over 32.9 million have been fully vaccinated, representing 9.9% of the population.
The United States has surpassed 29.1 million coronavirus cases and 528,000 related deaths since the pandemic began a year ago, according to Johns Hopkins University.