Days after Philadelphia ousted the company Philly Fighting COVID from running coronavirus vaccine clinics, the company's CEO defended himself in a wide-ranging interview with local reporters Friday.
Andrei Doroshin, 22, said he's being "thrown under the bus" after the company vaccinated more than 6,700 people in mass clinics at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. City leaders have said they cut ties with the organization after losing trust about patient data, and seeing news reports that Doroshin took doses and administered them to friends.
The organization administered about 5% of all vaccine shots given out in the city to date.
In the press conference, Doroshin had answers, though a spokesperson for the health department has disputed some of his claims.
Get Philly local news, weather forecasts, sports and entertainment stories to your inbox. Sign up for NBC Philadelphia newsletters.
Consistent with the story he gave to TODAY Thursday, Doroshin said the doses were left over after a clinic and he followed the proper procedure to "call everybody you can."
He said he did not place a call to Dr. Caroline Johnson, the city's acting deputy health commissioner, who reports to Dr. Thomas Farley.
"No, it was 9 o'clock in the evening, they’re not going to answer their phones," Doroshin said. "I’m not going to bug Dr. Johnson at 9 o'clock in the evening when she’s in the suburbs about to have dinner.”
Full coverage of the COVID-19 outbreak and how it impacts you
"I administered vaccine to my girlfriend," Doroshin said. "I did so with physician supervision, that is perfectly legal."
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."
Doroshin said lawyers have told him "we've done nothing illegal."
On becoming a for-profit
Months before vaccinations began, PFC, a nonprofit, had a contract with the city to provide testing. Farley said group was slated to receive more than $190,000 as part of the testing contract. But the city has only paid about $111,000, not paying recent invoices, Doroshin said. Doroshin claimed it had to do with outdoor heaters not being a covered expense.
James Garrow, a spokesman for Farley, said three of Philly Fighting COVID's invoices "were rejected due to incomplete documentation and duplicative time sheets."
No dollars changed hands between the city and PFC for vaccine services, Garrow said.
Doroshin said PFC moved to become a for-profit but was not technically a for-profit yet. Garrow says the group expressed interest in changing its status in December.
Doroshin also claimed the department advised him to start billing insurance providers for administering the shots - spurring the push to become a for-profit company. Garrow couldn't confirm that, but said it would come up in an investigative report the department was tasked to complete about the relationship with PFC.
On patient data
Doroshin says data from everyone who signed up to get vaccinated on CovidReadi, the website that PFC had used to sign up for an appointment, will be securely transferred to the city and deleted from PFC's servers.
"The only people who have had access are our team as well as the city," he said.
Relationship with councilman
On an application to run the clinic, the group listed City Council members Mark Squilla and Bobby Henon as references.
After a WHYY and Billy Penn report, Doroshin and a Henon staffer confirmed the group sent a mobile testing unit to Henon's home to test his family.
"The company volunteered the services when it learned that the Henon family had driven to a Philly Fighting COVID testing site, only to unexpectedly find it closed," Henon's chief of staff, Courtney Voss, told NBC10 in a statement.
"We’ve tested other families, we’ve tested elderly people who couldn’t leave their homes. This was routine for us, we had a mobile testing operation. This was just another stop," Doroshin said.
Numerous public officials called for investigations into the matter this week. Mayor Jim Kenney sent Farley a letter expressing continued support for Farley. Kenney also ordered a public report in the next 30 days detailing how Philly Fighting COVID came to work with the city.
In an interview with NBC10's Mitch Blacher, Farley said the health department will investigate itself and work on that report.
Later Friday, state legislators called on Farley to resign, citing "missteps and missed opportunities" in the vaccine rollout.