Philadelphia cuts ties with group charged with rolling out COVID-19 vaccinations

Philadelphia cuts ties with group charged with rolling out COVID-19 vaccinations
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Philadelphia has cut ties with a group charged with administering COVID-19 vaccinations after the group quietly changed its status from non-profit to for-profit.

The startup, Philly Fighting COVID, included a group of college students with minimal experience tasked with delivering coronavirus vaccinations, leading to extensive logistical issues and accusations of misconduct, according to The Washington Post.

In addition to the group changing its corporate status, reports emerged that it had quietly altered its privacy policy to allow it to sell personal data and its CEO Andrei Doroshin faced allegations that he had taken extra vaccine doses for himself, which he has denied.


The group’s leadership had no members with a medical degree or public health background and Doroshin’s own experience involved founding a nonprofit that “mostly consisted of a meme-heavy Twitter account, some minor community lobbying, and a fund-raiser with a $50,000 goal that netted $684,” according to Philadelphia Magazine.

The executive team is also almost entirely white at a time when the 44 percent Black city has struggled to disseminate shots to its Black population. Only 12 percent of shots in Philadelphia have gone to Black patients thus far.

“If there was anybody poised and ready to do this, it was us,” Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium founder Ala Stanford told the magazine. “I happen to have been a doctor for 23 years, longer than some of these kids have been living, but I need these white kids to teach me how to do it?”

Katrina Lipinksy, a registered nurse who volunteered with the organization, told the Philadelphia Inquirer that in her experience it was “a disaster of an operation” that never requested her credentials before having her begin vaccinating people. She also claimed to have seen Doroshin put aside several vaccine doses after numerous senior citizens were turned away one day.

The city said Monday that it would sever ties with the group, and Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said in a briefing Tuesday that it had been a mistake to partner with the startup.

Doroshin has apologized for “any miscommunications” and called the alteration of the privacy policy “a mistake.”

“We never have and never would sell, share, or disseminate any data we collected as it would be in violation of HIPAA rules,” he said, referencing the federal law that protects private medical data, according to the Post.

The Hill has reached out to Philly Fighting COVID for comment.