The allegations raise more alarming questions about Philly Fighting COVID and its leader just hours after the city yanked vaccines from the group over concerns about its for-profit designation and other “troubling” behaviors, first unearthed by WHYY News and Billy Penn in a series of stories over the last week.
In a non-contractual agreement, the city had provided Philly Fighting COVID with thousands of vaccine doses to distribute at the city’s mass vaccination site that opened at the Pennsylvania Convention Center earlier this month.
According to Pennsylvania licensure requirements, which the City of Philadelphia follows, only certain medical professionals — including doctors, nurses, and pharmacists — may administer immunizations. Students and other technicians may be eligible to administer vaccines under direct supervision. Doroshin, a graduate neuroscience student at Drexel, does not meet any of those criteria for who can inject a vaccine.
In an unrelated interview last week, Health Department spokesperson James Garrow used this very scenario as an example of a disqualifying practice for the city-partnered organization.
“If Andrei Doroshin is giving out vaccines, I would want to know that because then we would shut them down,” Garrow said.
Lipinksy also said that there were pre-med, nursing students, and staffers who were administering the vaccines, and filling syringes with fluid. According to Pennsylvania law, those individuals are allowed to vaccinate if they are under direct supervision. Lipinsky said clinical professionals were nearby, but not directly supervising.
“They were running around like kids at the end of the day vaccinating each other,” she said.
Lipinksi herself was not asked for her credentials as a registered nurse until after she had already volunteered at the clinic, she said.
Formed last spring, Philly Fighting COVID went from a student-run group manufacturing PPE, to erecting one of the largest citywide coronavirus testing operations, to the city’s first mass vaccine distributor in just nine months’ time.
That astral trajectory came to an abrupt close on Monday after the city spent weeks distancing itself from the once-confident partner in the fight against the pandemic. It remains unclear whether the city knew about the allegations that Doroshin was taking vaccines on Saturday prior to terminating their relationship.
In recent interviews with national publications, Doroshin compared his vision for a vaccination program into a McDonald’s-like franchise and “a factory” that could move from city to city. He also advocated to “stop using best practices” for the sake of efficiency.
“The old best practices in healthcare in terms of intramuscular injections were written for a hospital visit that would take 30 minutes that you would bill for as a provider visit,” Doroshin told HealthDay in an interview last week. “Most of those best practices can go out the window.”
This is a breaking news story and will be updated.