Philly’s COVID mess

By Christopher Harper

Amid charges of chaos and corruption, Philadelphia’s plan to provide vaccines for the Covid viruses has been an absolute disaster.

Less than a month ago, Mayor Jim Kenney announced a major initiative with Andrei Doroshin, the CEO of Philly Fighting Covid.

What was the first indication that there might be a problem? Doroshin is a 22-year-old graduate student without any background in health. His organization included various college friends who had experience in technology, so they used 3-D printing machines to make face shields.

On October 7, he presented a slideshow via Zoom in which he described how he and his colleagues planned to create vaccination sites throughout Philadelphia to provide vaccines.

That’s when the second indication of a problem appeared. In the live stream of his presentation, Doroshin planned to manage five mass vaccination sites and 20 smaller sites scattered throughout the city. He claimed his team could vaccinate between 500,000 and 1.5 million people.

“This is the juicy slide,” said Doroshin, explaining the financing plan. “How are we gonna get paid?” He explained that the vaccine doses were free, provided by the federal government. But Philly Fighting Covid could bill insurance companies $24 a dose for administering it.

“I just told you how many vaccines we want to do—you can do the math in your head,” he said.

A month later, Doroshin made a similar presentation, complete with colorful maps and a $2.7 million projected budget, to the Philadelphia City Council. He said his team at Philly Fighting Covid had begun submitting plans for building out five high-capacity sites that could each take up to 10,000 patients a day.

Within days, the organization faced a variety of scandals. A nurse accused Doroshin of spiriting away doses of the vaccine to give to his friends and family. A City Council member and his family also got preferential treatment.

Ultimately, it turned out that a top Department of Health official gave Doroshin key information about how to handle the accounts and get the job.

The city never signed a formal contract with Philly Fighting Covid nor gave the organization any money, but it did provide its unofficial sanction and publicity. Most important, the city turned over thousands of doses from its vaccine allotment to the group and helped it find recipients by sharing lists of residents who were newly eligible for the vaccine.

Last week, the City of Philadelphia finally cut ties with Doroshin and his group. Still, the organization served as a major clearinghouse to register for vaccines, and now everyone has to sign up again.

Unfortunately for Philadelphia Democrats, they can’t blame Donald Trump for this incredible mess.

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