Philly Fighting COVID CEO lashes out at ‘competitors’ in apology email to donors

Philly Fighting COVID CEO Andrei Doroshin inside his apartment building

Philly Fighting COVID CEO Andrei Doroshin (Kimberly Paynter/WHYY)

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After weeks of radio silence, Philly Fighting COVID’s Andrei Doroshin surfaced Tuesday afternoon in a brief email addressed to “donors.” Though framed as an apology, the start-up CEO did not elaborate on what he was sorry for.

In the note, Doroshin said he would focus on “money owed”  and “recovering the good of our names.” He pointed to unnamed “minor administrative decisions” that he described as the “fodder that was needed for competitors and other groups that did not share our interests to shut us down and personally discredit me and my team.”

It was unclear which competitors or groups Doroshin was referring to in his email. He did not respond to a request for comment.

The City of Philadelphia cut off Philly Fighting COVID’s vaccine supply after WHYY News and Billy Penn revealed the group had abandoned its community testing obligations and pivoted to a for-profit model with a privacy policy that would allow the company to sell user data. It was later revealed that Doroshin took vaccine doses home from PFC’s Pennsylvania Convention Center clinic, even after turning patients away.

Philly Fighting COVID’s vaccination operation was entirely privately funded; the vaccine doses it administered were provided free of charge by the federal government. Doroshin credited several personal friends with fronting the bulk of the funds to get the Convention Center clinic off the ground.

Donors receiving the email said the note was a missed opportunity for Doroshin to own his mistakes, and only served to deepen mistrust.

“Where are you saying that you apologize for letting down the donors who believed in you?” asked Bill Wohl, an early donor to Philly Fighting COVID, in an emailed response to Doroshin’s note. “Where is the acceptance you made real and clearly documented mistakes?  Where is the note to me … to explain the mysterious decision to move from nonprofit to for-profit?”

An email sent from Philly Fighting COVID CEO Andrei Doroshin to donors on Feb. 23, 2021.

Wohl, who works as a communications specialist and a volunteer firefighter in Chester County, said he spoke to Doroshin after responding to his email. Wohl said he wanted to offer the former CEO some professional crisis management advice.

“[The email] once again signaled that he’s in this altered state of reality where everyone is against him, and he did nothing wrong,” said Wohl. “My counsel to him this afternoon was that his first step on the road to redemption is owning it.”

In his email to donors, Doroshin doubled down on the point he’s made before that Philadelphians losing vaccine access are the ones who suffer most from the downfall of his organization.

Since the city cut ties with Philly Fighting COVID, dozens of organizations, including health systems, the Black Doctors COVID-19 Consortium, and the city Health Department itself, have taken up the mantle of vaccinating thousands of Philadelphians a week.

The Health Department declined to comment on Doroshin’s email.

Wohl said he interpreted the mention of “money owed” as an indication that Doroshin would be working to recover funds owed to Philly Fighting COVID  for services rendered — not to repay donors.

“I’ve never actually heard Andrei do anything other than say, ‘Woe is me,’” Wohl said. “The mission of somebody that’s supporting the city in a pandemic is, first and foremost, what’s best for those patients. I think he’s lost sight of that along the way.”

WHYY’s Maria Pulcinella contributed reporting. 

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