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Philadelphia ordered the vaccination of residents of the company of a Russian-speaking immigrant: it all ended in a scandal

Andrey Doroshin is 22 years old, is pursuing an advanced degree from Drexel and is a senior executive in three different companies: a real estate firm (CEO), a biotech company (CBO) and, most of all, an organization called Philly Fighting COVID-19 (CEO) ... This is the company that health officials used to run the first mass vaccination clinic in Philadelphia. But just two and a half weeks after launching the first clinic, the city cut ties with them due to concerns over data privacy policies, a sudden commercialization, and an inability to maintain testing sites. Writes about it PhillyMag.

Photo: Shutterstock

Now Doroshin is facing additional charges that he took an unused vaccine with him from one of his clinics and, possibly, administered vaccines outside the institution.

Doroshin formed Philly Fighting COVID in the early months of the pandemic, when he gathered a group of friends from the university to make face masks using 19D printers and donate them to local hospitals. In the summer, the group evolved into a COVID-7000 testing center before moving on to its current iteration: vaccines. The organization, using doses provided by the city, gave about 8 injections - almost XNUMX% of the total number of first doses in Philadelphia. In the course of this progress, Doroshin was hailed as a kind of operational scientist.

“We took the entire model and just threw it out the window,” Doroshin said. "We think a little differently than healthcare workers."

But the city's health department abruptly ended its relationship with Philly Fighting COVID-19, stating that Doroshin turned the company into a commercial organization behind her back and changed its data privacy policy, which theoretically allowed it to be used to sell user data, including names, ages, addresses and health conditions. , to third parties.

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“For Philly Fighting COVID-19, making these changes without talking to the city is extremely worrisome,” the statement said. "As a result of these concerns, as well as the unexpected termination of testing operations at Philly Fighting COVID-19, the Department of Health has decided to stop supplying vaccine for Philly Fighting COVID-19."

Doroshin claims he has never sold and will not sell user data. He insists that he directly briefed Caroline Johnson, the city's deputy health commissioner in charge of vaccine distribution, of the commercial status prior to the change. He claims to have turned Philly Fighting COVID-19 into a commercial organization to make it easier for the company to raise funds and cover hospital costs. A spokesman for the department confirmed to reporters that Doroshin had told at least one city official that his company had gone commercial.

“I don’t understand why people are worried about such things,” he wonders. “We've just vaccinated another 2 people this weekend. We only care about vaccinating people. "

Lack of experience

Like many of the people who work for him at Philly Fighting COVID-19, Doroshin doesn't have much health experience. He is in his fifth year of a combined bachelor's and master's program in psychology, and his experience is not relevant to running a polyclinic.

There is no denying his salesmanship. His biography on the Philly Fighting COVID-19 webpage states that he started his career as a photography director for AND Productions in Los Angeles, founded and taught at the Rancho Mirage Film Department, then retired to found a non-profit organization. ...

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What remains unsaid is that AND Productions was founded by Doroshin's father and doesn't seem to have a real presence on the internet. On the YouTube channel of Doroshin's other film project, the production company SpeedJumpFilms he created, there is one short film, as well as videos about people riding a longboard and doing parkour exercises.

Other members of the Philly Fighting COVID-19 leadership also appear to lack the qualifications typical of a group performing a complex public health operation.

The group's chief researcher is Karol Osipovich, professor of neuroscience at Drexel, who is also Doroshin's scientific advisor. In his official biography for Philly Fighting COVID-19, Jonathan Lawless, the group's "systems department manager" (and co-founder of a biotech company where Doroshin serves as CEO), says he graduated from Drexel in 2019 with a bachelor's degree in biomedicine and claims that he “played an important role at Johnson & Johnson,” even though his LinkedIn profile said he only worked there for seven months while still in school.

None of the group's “executive team” members have a public health degree or a MD, although the “task force” includes several nurses and one doctor. Soon after the city severed its partnership with Philly Fighting COVID, the organization removed its employee roster from its website - an action that Doroshin said he took to prevent employees from being harassed.

Doroshin insists that his biography does not matter; as the government and health agencies struggled to respond to the pandemic, his group stepped up. “Our experience is that we're just trying to help,” he says.

First in line

Philly Fighting COVID-19 has demonstrated the ability to adapt and meet whatever needs are most pressing at the moment. When the acute shortage of personal protective equipment diminished, Doroshin gathered a few more friends to "get work done on what the test clinic would look like." He says he worked with Quest Diagnostics, which provided tests for free, opening clinics throughout Philadelphia in underserved areas. At first, testing was slow - only about a hundred people in the first two weeks. Doroshin, in his words, tried to cooperate with hospitals in test clinics, but “everyone said no to them. So they said, "Okay, we'll just go and help the city."

The group applied for a city test grant - and, Doroshin said, they received about $ 190 in funding. He claims that Philly Fighting COVID-000 ultimately tested 19 people, 20% of whom were uninsured, at $ 000 less than the grant. In the first interview, he said that he had returned the rest of the money to the city.

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But Jim Garrow, a spokesman for the health department, says the city paid Doroshin's group just $ 111 for testing, in part because Philly Fighting COVID-000 submitted three separate invoices that were turned down “due to incomplete documentation and duplicate timesheets. ". According to Garrow, in timesheets, employees worked in two places at once.

When it came time to start vaccinations, Doroshin saw another opportunity, so he reformed Philly Fighting COVID-19 once again by offering to open a mass clinic for free.

In the United States, any organization that runs a clinic must first submit a series of forms to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which, among other things, identify the doctors involved in the project and the qualifications of each person who will be vaccinated. According to the Department of Health, the documents and operational plan presented by Doroshin's group met all the various state and federal requirements.

It is unclear whether Doroshin's resume was fully checked in the city. But there is one main reason the city chose this COVID-19 company to open its first vaccination clinic: "There was only one healthcare provider who filled out their required forms and permits and came to us with a vaccine distribution plan." - explained Garrow. The city was not interested in refusing free aid, and Doroshin was first in line.

Black Doctors COVID-19

Ala Stanford, who founded the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium and has been testing coronavirus in the black community for several months, also waited for vaccinations to begin.

“If there was anyone willing to do this, it was us,” said Stanford, who became one of the most visible doctors in the city during the pandemic. But even though she sits on the city's vaccine advisory committee and has almost constant contact with the health department, no one told her that Philly Fighting COVID-19 would be the first vaccine starter group, the consortium founder said.

When she asked the city when her organization could begin receiving vaccine doses, she learned about the CDC's paperwork requirements, which she said was the first time. The City says the vaccine application process was clearly posted online and announced a few months earlier.

Stanford says she has had no issues with Philly Fighting COVID-19. But she was indignant when soon someone from the city approached her and invited her to become a Philly Fighting COVID-19 vaccination partner, as if she alone could not do it.

“We have been administering the flu vaccine since October and testing for COVID-19 in the hardest hit communities, and I’ve worked as a doctor for 23 years,” Stanford argues. Mostly she was grieved by the feeling that the city had left her in the shadows.

Before breaking off relations with Doroshin, the Health Department maintained that everything at the Philly Fighting COVID-19 clinic was working fine. “Ultimately, we are in control because we own the vaccine and we manage the vaccine,” said Deputy Health Commissioner Johnson.

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But there were already, among other things, signs that Philly Fighting COVID-19 was starting to face problems. When the city announced its own vaccine website, the Health Department said it did not actually have access to the data that Doroshin's group had collected on its separate website. WHYY announced that when Philly Fighting COVID-19 began its vaccination operation, it suddenly suspended testing, abandoning community groups that relied on them for free tests. The organization said it stopped testing due to low demand.

"We've done our job"

Doroshin does not understand why Philly Fighting COVID-19 was subjected to such a surprise attack. “We did our job,” he says.

Doroshin disputes a claim made by one of WHYY's volunteers that Philly Fighting COVID-19 management boasted of being a "millionaire" now that the company could bill at least $ 18 for insurance for every vaccine administered. The idea that he profited from this, Doroshin calls "crazy." According to him, every day of the vaccination clinic's work cost him $ 20-50 thousand, including the payment of medical personnel, conference center premises and other expenses. “I have the same car I drove before - I didn't buy a Bentley,” he says. But he refused to provide expenditure documentation confirming the daily cost of maintaining the clinics.

According to Doroshin, the data confidentiality allegations were also “fabricated”; they say, even if he wanted to sell personal data (and he insists that he did not), then, as he claims, he does not have such an opportunity, since the sale of personal medical information is regarded as a violation.

One witness said that she saw how Doroshin took unused doses of vaccine outside the clinic, while others claimed that they saw a photo in which he stood in front of someone with a syringe in his hands, as if he was about to get vaccinated. At a press conference, Health Commissioner Thomas Farley confirmed that unused doses are expected to be returned to the Department of Health.

Doroshin responded to the accusations: “This is unfounded. I have no idea why they say that. "

On the same day, District Attorney Larry Krasner and State Attorney General Josh Shapiro asked anyone with information about Philly Fighting COVID-19's involvement in potential crimes to contact them.

Having severed ties with the organization, the city now has to fight to create new clinics in order to ensure that those vaccinated by Doroshin's group can receive a second vaccination. The Health Department says it does not intend to provide Philly Fighting COVID-19 with any vaccine again, and has no plans to renew the group's COVID-19 testing contract, which will expire at the end of the month. But cutting ties at this stage does little to answer the more serious question of how the city got into this tangled story at all.

Public hearings

Philadelphia City Councilors are demanding answers from city officials. For example, Cindy Bass said that her office had prepared a draft resolution for public hearings. Inquirer.

“This is very disturbing, very disturbing, and we need answers,” Bass said.

She said she plans to present the resolution with the support of eight councilors. It called on the public health and social services committee to "hold hearings to investigate the vaccine contracting process, including consideration of Philly Fighting COVID-19's contract with the city."

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Philadelphia Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said that although the city had an agreement to use the data for testing, there was no vaccination contract. “This was done on a voluntary basis,” he stated.

“At that point in time, we still didn’t feel it was a truly trustworthy organization,” Farley said. "Until then, they vaccinated a lot of people, so a lot of good things came out of it."

In a statement Tuesday, January 26, Attorney General Josh Shapiro said his office was in contact with the city about the allegations and urged "any consumers who believe they have been cheated to file a complaint." District Attorney Larry Krasner also called the group's methods "worrying" and asks those with information to contact the Special Investigation Department.

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