The 22-year-old CEO of a company once working with the City of Philadelphia to distribute coronavirus vaccines but now embroiled in controversy admitted that he took some vaccines home with him and injected his friends.
Andrei Doroshin made the confession Thursday on the TODAY Show in what was his first TV interview since the fallout of the scandal involving Philly Fighting COVID, a group that once injected city-issued vaccines. The city has since cut ties after the group failed to disclose that it recently became a for-profit company, after collecting the personal information of thousands of residents.
Doroshin defended his decision to inject his friends, despite not being a registered nurse. He told TODAY’s Stephanie Gosk that he administered four doses which had been left over and were about to expire. Doroshin maintained he and his group made calls looking people at high risk who qualified for a shot but could not find anyone.
“I stand by that decision. I understand that I made that mistake. That is my mistake to carry for the rest of my life, but it is not the mistake of the organization,” Doroshin said.
City health officials had said Wednesday that an audit of vaccine doses given to Philly Fighting COVID found "no evidence that vaccine was wasted, stolen, or otherwise misused."
The Philadelphia Department of Public Health’s decision to partner with PFC, a 9-month-old startup, despite having a litany of other options in the hospital-heavy city, was surprising from the get-go.
"Why we have to rely on an organization that is less than nine months old, started by students primarily to produce PPE, and not by organizations that have a vetted track record around helping people address COVID-19, is beyond me," Councilwoman Katherine Gilmore Richardson said. "I’m flabbergasted, I’m dismayed and I’ll never understand how this happened."
The group never signed a contract with the city before receiving vaccine doses, because, health department spokesman James Garrow said, the city did not receive federal funds to distribute the doses. Instead, the city requires only that organizations fill out an interest form before receiving and distributing the vaccine, he said.
The city has declined to make public the registration form that Philly Fighting COVID filled out to begin getting doses.
Initially, the group was testing for the coronavirus and set up shop at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where they ran vaccination clinics and injected nearly 7,000 people. But in recent weeks, the department of health said PFC abruptly stopped testing for the virus, as well, a key component of the partnership.
The city has since set up its own website and is encouraging people to sign up there instead.
PFC also started billing insurance companies for the vaccines, despite receiving them for free. Doroshin defended that decision, as well, claiming that the donations the group was receiving were not enough to cover the costs of running the vaccination clinics.
However, reporting from WHYY and Billy Penn has since indicated Doroshin embellished his resumé and always planned to make a profit. A former volunteer at PFC told the news outlets that Doroshin openly bragged about using the opportunity to become a millionaire.
The group has also come under scrutiny for other allegedly shoddy practices.
Katrina Lipinsky, a registered nurse and former PFC volunteer, told NBC10 she found it “unusual” that the group didn’t ask to see her credentials before allowing her to administer vaccines.
It’s now unclear if Doroshin, who says he has recently received death threats, will face any criminal charges. Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Kraner and Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro are looking into the matter.
Several Philadelphia City Council members are also calling for hearings into the partnership between the city and the group.