Philadelphia Deputy Health Commissioner Dr. Caroline Johnson has resigned after a report found she was unfairly giving a vaccine bidding advantage to Philly Fighting COVID, the city’s largest vaccine distribution site.
The Philadelphia Inquirer obtained records revealing special treatment that Andrei Doroshin, CEO of Philly Fighting COVID, received by Johnson, undisclosed to other Health Department officials.
In an email obtained by the publication, Johnson reached out to Doroshin in December, regarding a city program that enabled agencies and organizations to apply, and potentially be able to administer the vaccine.
Though the proposal had already been publically posted, health officials were not permitted to selectively encourage individuals to apply to the program.
“[T]hese actions were inappropriate because the information shared was not available to all potential applicants,” Health Department spokesperson James Garrow said in a statement to the publication Saturday. “While these actions may have been intended to help advance the City’s vaccine distribution effort, the Health Commissioner has accepted her resignation in the best interest of the city.”
Philly Fighting COVID did submit an application, along with eight other organizations in the city, though none of the applications have been reviewed at the this time, noted The Philadelphia Inquirer.
Doroshin first hit headlines when the 22-year old pitched a $2.7 million proposal to the Philadelphia City Council as a way to expand vaccinations city wide, reported NPR Friday.
The 22-year old CEO had a deal with Philadelphia Department of Public Health and the mayor’s office by Jan. 9 – though the city never signed a contract with Doroshin, they did hand over a portion of Philadelphia’s allotted vaccine doses.
Philly Fighting COVID became the city’s first mass vaccination clinic earlier this year.
But controversy quickly erupted around the young CEO, after a nurse claimed on twitter she saw him take home a “Ziplock bag-full of vaccines.”
Doroshin then admitted to the TODAY Show that he in fact took four vaccines home and administered them to his friends.
He justified his actions by saying he didn’t want the vaccines 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.”
The city did not provide any funding for the Philly Fighting COVID start up, nor have they yet allocated any funds for the program that would allow other organizations in Philadelphia the ability to administer vaccines.
City officials severed ties with Philly Fighting COVID earlier this week.
Saturday’s resignation of the Deputy Health Commissioner is just the latest debacle as city officials attempt to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.