How Covidliste is helping 1 million people to get vaccinated with Scalingo

July 02, 2021 - 7 min read
How Covidliste is helping 1 million people to get vaccinated with Scalingo

The incredible story of a team of volunteers that gave 1 million people the opportunity to get vaccinated faster.

Covidliste is an application that helps people to find unused Covid-19 vaccine doses.

This project allows vaccination centers to offer their unused doses of Covid-19 vaccine to french citizens. Covidliste is a citizen initiative that helps to avoid lost doses of vaccine. Consequently Covidliste also helps the french government to accelerate the vaccination campaign against Covid-19.

In this article, we are going to talk about the incredible story of Covidliste and how Covidliste saved hundreds of doses of vaccine against Covid-19 with Scalingo.

This article was written in close collaboration between Covidliste's team and Scalingo's team.

Ready? Let's dive in!

The genesis of Covidliste

The Covidliste project starts at the end of March 2021, when Martin Daniel and Doctor Antoine Roux, a pneumologist at the Foch hospital, realized that many doses of Covid-19 vaccine are getting lost.

Martin contacts his friend Mathieu Ripert to think about a web-based solution to optimize the vaccination campaign.

In a couple of hours, Mathieu and Martin developed a simple registration form in React.js. To speedup they decide to host the website on a PaaS and they will quickly turn to Scalingo.

In less than 24 hours Covidliste already had more than 50,000 subscribers.

The project is launched. The fantastic Covidliste adventure starts!

👉 If you want all the details about the genesis of Covidliste here is a Twitter Thread by Martin in french

Tweet Martin Daniel

A citizen's initiative

Martin and Mathieu quickly realized that the need for Covidliste was huge and that they would need help.

They launched a call for volunteers and gathered around them dozens of engineers, designers, lawyers, communication specialists and other volunteers ready to face the challenge.

Quickly, the volunteers got organized with a first objective: prove that Covidliste works by vaccinating someone during their first week of launch.

The countdown was on.

In less than a few days, the Covidliste team starts working hard:

  • Building an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) to send SMS notifications to the thousands of volunteers already registered.
  • Implementation of all the necessary measures to meet the requirements of GDPR.
  • Secure personal data with encryption in transit and at rest
  • And above all, finding vaccination centers ready to be part of the adventure.

On April 3rd 2021, 4 days after its launch, Covidliste announced the first person vaccinated.

Tweet Covidliste

Automating and scaling to accelerate the vaccination campaign

How Scalingo enabled Covidliste to easily scale the platform while focusing on what matters the most: accelerating the vaccination campaign

The Covidliste story proves how strong technology can be to accelerate the vaccination campaign and to save lives.

After launching the MVP Covidliste was facing a couple of new challenges:

  • Respond to the numerous requests (press, users, vaccination centers...)
  • Optimize the remote collaboration between volunteers

This can be a complicated task. It involves solving technical challenges in an extremely short period of time.

Indeed after their launch Covidliste was confronted with several technical challenges that we will detail here.

Managing the traffic peaks following TV appearance

You can imagine it: the first days of Covidliste are marked by many press coverage (radio, TV, newspaper) and each time the load on the site faces an important peak.

With the press coverage, the Covidliste site can have a high number of visitors at any time. In technical terms this is called a peak load.

Covidliste TV Peak

To face this, Covidliste used a feature called autoscaling on Scalingo.

To make it simple, autoscaling allows you to adjust the number of resources dedicated to your website automatically according to a pre-defined metric.

You can of course read our blog post on autoscaling if you are interested in this topic.

Autoscalingo Scalingo PaaS

Sending thousands of of notifications every day

One of Covidliste's main technical challenges is the optimization of the so-called "matching algorithm". For each vaccine dose, the Covidliste team members must ask theirself the following question:

**How many people should the platform notify, in order to minimize the number of lost doses while limiting the cost of sending SMS and emails?

This problem results in a very large number of requests to the database.

Every minute, for each available dose of vaccine, the idea is to query the database and classify the eligible people:

  • located within X km of the vaccination center
  • who meet the age criteria of the vaccination calendar
  • have not received too many notifications

Several updates to the database capacity were required as the vaccination campaign accelerated. Once again, the Scalingo platform played its role by allowing Covidliste to manage its growth with a few clicks.

Each time, the upgrades are done without any interruption of service, and with a disconcerting ease. Mathieu Ripert, CTO of Covidliste.

Screenshot of PostgreSQL plan

Coordinating the work of dozens of volunteer developers

The Covidliste project is an open source project to which dozens of volunteers contribute.

Facilitating collaboration between volunteers, while remaining agile and keeping control over security, is necessary for a fast growing web application like Covidliste.

With Scalingo Coviliste was able to set up a continuous deployment system connected to a GitHub repository in a few clicks, allowing them to follow the GitHub Flow.

With each accepted code change, Scalingo automatically deploys a new version of Covidliste without any downtime.

Conclusion: Covidliste saves lives!

We are very proud to help and support Covidliste teams in this initiative by providing them with our resources and expertise.

In total, Covidliste has already saved hundreds of doses of vaccine and reached over 1 million French people.

Congratulations to the entire team of volunteers for setting up this project!

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Yann Klis
Yann Klis
Yann Klis co-founded Scalingo. Scalingo's vision is to offer a european sovereign cloud housting platform for developers. Today Scalingo hosts thousands of web applications from customers located all over the world. Before that Yann founded Novelys a web studio specialised in Ruby on Rails technology.

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