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CEO, 22, of mass vaccination clinic in Philly defends taking doses home

CEO Andrei Doroshin, 22, admitted he was unqualified to administer vaccine doses he gave to friends after taking them home from a mass vaccination site in Philadelphia.
TODAY
/ Source: TODAY

The 22-year-old CEO of a group running Philadelphia's first mass vaccination site is defending his actions after the city terminated the partnership when he took vaccines home and administered them to friends.

Andrei Doroshin spoke to Stephanie Gosk on TODAY Thursday after public radio station WHYY reported a woman at the Philly Fighting COVID site saw Doroshin leave the clinic with vaccine doses in his bag.

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Doroshin, who is a graduate student at Drexel University, told Gosk that he took home four doses that were left over after a mass vaccination clinic was held on Jan. 23. He said he personally administered vaccines without medical qualifications to four of his friends.

Gosk asked him why he didn't find someone in an at-risk group to help get vaccinated rather than his young and healthy friends.

"The doses were about to expire," he said. "We called everybody we knew. Every single person."

He admitted he was not qualified to administer vaccines.

"I am not a nurse," he said. "I have undergone our internal certifications." While NBC News has not reviewed Philly Fighting COVID’s internal certifications, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that all health care personnel who administer vaccines receive comprehensive, competency-based training on vaccine administration policies and procedures before administering vaccines.

Doroshin, who said he has been receiving death threats, defended taking the vaccine doses home, saying he didn't want them to go to waste.

"I stand by that decision," he said. "I understand I made that mistake. That is my mistake to carry for the rest of my life. But it is not the mistake of the organization."

Katrina Lipinsky, a nurse who was on site on Jan. 23, tweeted on Tuesday that Doroshin "took home a Ziplock bag-full of vaccines." People who had appointments were turned away Saturday even though there was still a stock of vaccines left at the end of the day, according to WHYY.

"We turned 3,000 people away that got the link fraudulently," Doroshin told NBC News. "At the end of the day, we had 100 vaccines that were left over. These vaccines were going to go expire.”

Philadelphia officials also said that Doroshin's organization abruptly shut down testing clinics, updated its privacy policy to potentially allow personal data to be sold, and didn't reveal that it planned on becoming a for-profit business.

Doroshin told Gosk the organization never sold anyone's data and the updated privacy policy was a mistake. He confirmed that Philly Fighting COVID was looking to turn a profit eventually but to date has not made any money.

He added that it was necessary for the organization to become a for-profit company because it's costly to run the vaccination sites and the company needed capital to run them as well as to bill insurance companies. Doroshin told NBC News that the lack of funding led the organization to close its testing clinics.

Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said the allegations raise serious questions as the city has come under fire for allowing a 22-year-old college student to run its biggest vaccination site.

"If your point is that you came here during a pandemic to do good work for people and to help people, then that's not what it looks like," Krasner told Gosk.

TODAY first profiled Doroshin when the vaccination clinic launched at the Pennsylvania Convention Center three weeks ago.

"We took the entire model and just threw it out the window," he said at the time. "And we said to hell with all of that. We're gonna completely build a new model."

Nearly 7,000 vaccinations were administered at the site, which has left people like health care worker Stacia Ciak worried that they won't be able to get the necessary second dose of the vaccine now that the city has cut ties with the organization.

"My co-workers and I've been discussing it, we all feel the same way," Ciak told Gosk. "We just feel kind of betrayed. And it's a shame. It's so frustrating."

Philadelphia Public Health shared a message on Twitter stating that they have the information of everyone who received their first dose at Philly Fighting COVID clinics at the Convention Center, and they will follow up to ensure those individuals will get a second dose.

Krasner would not say whether Doroshin is under investigation. Doroshin says he has a lawyer and is "concerned" about legal ramifications, but believes at the end of the day he did the right thing.