To help administer Covid-19 vaccines, the City of Philadelphia enlisted the help of Philly Fighting COVID, which a start-up describing itself as a “group of college kids” with little to no medical experience. The organization is now being questioned for switching to a for-profit group without telling the city and allegedly stealing vaccine viles.
Before these accusations, Philly Fighting COVID appeared on NBC’s “Today,” where they explained that the company’s CEO Andrei Doroshin was a graduate student at Drexel University and had previously used 3-D printers to mass produce free face shields for frontline workers at the beginning of the pandemic last year.
This week, Philadelphia Magazine asked how “a 22-year-old CEO with virtually no health-care experience got picked to run the first mass vaccination clinic in Philadelphia.”
Philly Fighting COVID’s Chief Science Officer is a neuroscience professor at Drexel, who is also Doroshin’s academic adviser. Philly Fighting COVID’s Head of Systems graduated from Drexel in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical engineering, who claims to have ‘played important roles at Johnson & Johnson,’ but according to his LinkedIn profile, he only worked there for seven months while still in school.
However, there a few nurses on the organization’s “executive team.”
This lack of experience led to a disastrous vaccine distribution in Philadelphia. Philly Fighting COVID made a commitment to host Covid texting clinics in Philadelphia’s minority communities. But the group fell back on its word.
Siria Rivera told WHYY that Philly Fighting COVID canceled on her community multiple times. The last day the group was supposed to set up testing, Rivera received an email from the organization just 30 minutes before their scheduled time and canceled. Rivera pleaded with them to reconsider, saying there were so many residents who needed testing and did not have healthcare. She did not receive a response.
Two days prior, Doroshin announced on social media that it would not be setting up testing sites anymore.
Katrina Lipinsky, a 29-year-old registered nurse-practitioner volunteered with Philly Fighting COVID to help administer vaccines. She told the Philadelphia Inquirer that the organization did not even ask for her credentials before they let her administer doses. She also claims that she saw people who weren’t authorized to get vaccinated receiving a dose on January 16. She also claims she saw Doroshin take 10 doses offsite.
The night Lipinsky saw Doroshin take the vaccine doses, a photo of him circulated around Snapchat of him “getting ready to administer an unspecified syringe off-site, according to three sources who saw the image.”
Doroshin denied stealing any doses.
Two and a half weeks after the city of Philadelphia recruited Philly Fighting COVID to administer the vaccine, the city cut ties with the group.