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'It's A Literal Race Against The Virus': Carbon Health's Dr. Caesar Djavaherian On COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution

(CBS Local)-- COVID-19 has been in the United States for more than a year and an important next step in the return to normalcy is the distribution of vaccines nationwide. As states across the country vaccinate seniors and essential workers, a tech-enabled health care provider called Carbon Health is stepping up to assist local governments with the vaccine rollout.


Dr. Caesar Djavaherian is the co-founder of the San Francisco based Carbon Health and his company has partnered with with the city of Los Angeles on its vaccine scheduling platform and distribution centers. At Dodger Stadium, tens of thousands of people are getting vaccinated each day and the average time from check-in to completion is under 10 minutes. Dr. Djavaherian is hoping his company's technology and involvement in the vaccine distribution will get the program in California back on the right track.

"Our efforts in Los Angeles came when we partnered with the city's fire department," said Dr. Djavaherian, in an interview with CBS Local's DJ Sixsmith. "LA realized that some of the technologies they had incorporated for vaccine distribution started to not function as efficiently as they had hoped. At Carbon Health, we anticipated that the logistic side and the operations were going to be much more difficult to execute on than most cities and counties had anticipated. We launched the program 31 hours after our initial meeting with the city."

Dr. Djavaherian and Carbon Health do not control vaccine supply for a given area. The company works hand in hand with city and county officials to determine the number of vaccines that they will allocate to each distribution site.

"As the vaccine supply increases and we're hoping that happens over the next couple of weeks, we'll then be able to meet the demand that is waiting for us," said Dr. Djavaherian. "We've had 200,000 people sign up for vaccinations in LA and we've administered 80,000 vaccines in just over a week. As soon as we have the supply, we'll be able to efficiently administer those vaccines."

Another big topic of conversation across the nation is how extra doses of vaccines are being thrown away at the end of the day. While many people try to show up at vaccine distribution sites without an appointment in hopes of scoring a leftover dose of the vaccines, Dr. Djavaherian says these examples are few and far between.

"The general answer to that is that there isn't a good chance of getting it," said Dr. Djavaherian. "Some people have been fortunate and again it's the end of the vial and there are no more patients coming up and they happen to be there, our providers are not going to throw out vaccines. They're going to look for people to vaccinate, though I would say the odds are low for people who are lining up and waiting to get called."

While Carbon Health is just working with the city of Los Angeles at the moment, Dr. Djavaherian hopes his company's technology and services can be used by other cities across the country.

"We are ready, willing and able to scale anywhere in the country that needs help," said Dr. Djavaherian. "Some of the ways we've impacted vaccine distribution administration is that with the same number of employees, we've nearly doubled the number of vaccines delivered at the same sites. That shows you how important the technology is. We've made things like recording the visit automated. We're not spending time handwriting the vaccine and the lot number, which is what most people are experiencing. It's a literal race against this virus. The sooner people get vaccinated, the fewer transmissions we have."

Watch all of DJ Sixsmith's interviews from "The Sit-Down" series here.

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