City Council to focus on Philly Fighting COVID scandal

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia City Council will hold its first public hearing Friday into the Philly Fighting COVID vaccine distribution scandal.

Council will examine how the city's Department of Public Health gave the no-contract work to Andrei Doroshin, a Drexel University student with almost no public health experience.

Council will examine the work awarded to Andrei Doroshin's group, Philly Fighting COVID, which distributed nearly 7,000 vaccines this month before the city shut it down amid questions about its competency and patient privacy policy.

City officials promised earlier this week to improve the vetting of groups hired to administer COVID-19 vaccinations.

SEE ALSO: City continuing investigation into Philly Fighting COVID amid vaccine controversy
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Philadelphia officials promised Monday to improve the vetting of groups hired to administer COVID-19 vaccinations after it closed a convention center site run by a 22-year-old graduate student.

Council President Darrell Clarke wants to require the city to sign written contracts with vaccine partners given what he called the embarrassment and mistrust that ensued.

The city's Office of Inspector General is meanwhile examining whether Dr. Caroline Johnson, an acting deputy in the health department, unfairly gave Doroshin's group and another potential applicant budget information that was not made public.

Johnson, an infectious disease specialist, resigned last weekend. Mayor Jim Kenney on Monday praised her prior work for the city but said "we're going to trip up occasionally" as the city responds to the pandemic.

"It was clear that this was a hookup. Why was this not in writing?" Council Member Cindy Bass asked at a virtual press conference Monday afternoon.

Doroshin has insisted he did nothing wrong, though he concedes he took home four doses of the hard-to-get vaccine and administered it to friends.

"You know what, I did the job. We did the job. We vaccinated almost 7,000 people," said Doroshin in an interview with Action News.

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1-ON-1 INTERVIEW: The CEO of Philly Fighting COVID admitted to administering vaccines without medical qualifications to four of his friends.

He said the Philadelphia Health Department is fortunate his company was used to operate the vaccine clinic at the Pennsylvania Convention Center for health care workers.

"They couldn't do it themselves. Dr. Farley screwed this up. He couldn't do this himself," said Doroshin.

Philadelphia health officials began administering the second dose of the vaccine at the Pennsylvania Convention Center on Wednesday.

Mayor Kenney toured the facility with Dr. Farley, and admitted that there were missteps in planning.

"Philly Fighting COVID was a mistake and it's been corrected and we're moving on," Kenney said.

The mayor defended Dr. Farley as local lawmakers call for the health commissioner to resign.

"I think he's doing a good job. I think the health department has done a terrific job in keeping this pandemic at bay and I'm happy with the work," Kenney said.

SEE ALSO: Mayor backs health commissioner, city takes over Philly Fighting COVID vaccination site
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Philadelphia health officials began administering the second dose of the vaccine at a mass vaccination center after parting ways with the Philly Fighing COVID organization.


The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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