Dr. B's COVID vaccine dose progress, plans for user data remain a mystery

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Dr. B, a waitlist platform designed to help Americans book COVID-19 vaccine appointments, has reached over 2.4 million sign-ups, but the company has not provided specifics on how many vaccines doses it has actually helped deliver since its launch and what exactly it's doing with all of those users' data.

"While we have already sent more than 1.1 million notifications to users about available vaccines, in order to protect our users' privacy we don’t track when shots have been received," a Dr.B spokesperson told FOX Business in a statement on Wednesday. 

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Dr. B launched at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to get vaccines to as many people as possible and prevent leftover COVID-19 vaccine doses from getting wasted. CVS and Walgreens accounted for nearly 128,500 wasted shots, or about 70% of the more than 180,000 total wasted shots in the United States, as of the end of March, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

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However, as vaccinations have recently ramped up, the need for waitlists like Dr. B have declined as vaccine eligibility has opened to the majority of Americans. According to the CDC, over 287 million COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered as of Wednesday, with almost half of Americans receiving at least one dose and 39.5% fully vaccinated.

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Though Dr. B cites user privacy as its "top priority", the platform is not covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which aims to prevent the oversharing of health data. 

"We are not a covered entity, but we understand the seriousness of holding your data," FAQ on Dr.B's website reads. "We act as a patient's personal representative, and we protect your confidential information accordingly. In addition, our team collectively has decades of experience building HIPAA-compliant healthcare systems and understands the organizational and technical practices to keep your data safe."

When finding appointments, Dr. B asks its users to provide their name, telephone number, email, ZIP code and date of birth, which are then sent to a medical provider to verify a patient's identity and vaccine eligibility.

"We never rent, sell or otherwise share any user data with any third-party inappropriately," the spokesperson emphasized. "At any time our users can ask to stop notifications and also request to have their data completely purged from Dr. B."

However, Dr. B's privacy policy states that user information can be used internally for purposes other than vaccinations and would be disclosed to a new owner in the event that it is purchased or merges with another company. It is also unclear what happens to the data when a user opts out of notifications but does not request deletion of their data.

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Dr. B says it has more than 600 vaccination partners across the United States with more providers being added every week. However, that number makes up less than 1% of the 80,000 vaccination sites tracked by the CDC, and the company has declined to specify what states it is active in and who its partners are. 

"We are working with a number of partners, community organizations and healthcare providers to remove the barriers that are continuing to prevent people from getting vaccinated with a particular focus on underserved communities," Dr. B told FOX Business. 

Representatives for major pharmacy chains Walgreens and CVS confirmed to FOX Business that they have not partnered with Dr. B on their vaccination efforts. 

TickerSecurityLastChangeChange %
CVSCVS HEALTH CORP.87.36-1.30-1.47%
WBAWALGREENS BOOTS ALLIANCE, INC.52.01-2.18-4.02%

While other crowdsourced vaccination notification efforts like TurboVax have shut down their operations, Dr. B is showing no signs of slowing down. 

"While we launched to make sure no vaccine went to waste, we are now focused on removing the barriers — such as scheduling and transportation needs — that prevent people from getting vaccinated," Dr. B's spokesperson explained. "We also dedicate significant resources to education and community outreach in areas around the country with lagging vaccination rates. We are going to continue working to make healthcare, and specifically COVID vaccines, more equitable."

The platform is preparing for an international expansion and expects to help administer future COVID-19 vaccine booster shots in the U.S. once they are available. 

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