CHARLESTON — During Wednesday’s briefing, Gov. Jim Justice highlighted the FDA’s recent announcement that they are no longer permitting the use of the two major monoclonal antibody treatments.
According to a news release from the governor’s office, in their announcement, the FDA said that these two treatments are highly unlikely to be effective against the Omicron variant of COVID-19.
A portion of the FDA Statement appears as follows:
“In light of the most recent information and data available, today, the FDA revised the authorizations for two monoclonal antibody treatments – bamlanivimab and etesevimab (administered together) and REGEN-COV (casirivimab and imdevimab) – to limit their use to only when the patient is likely to have been infected with or exposed to a variant that is susceptible to these treatments.
“Because data show these treatments are highly unlikely to be active against the omicron variant, which is circulating at a very high frequency throughout the United States, these treatments are not authorized for use in any U.S. states, territories, and jurisdictions at this time. In the future, if patients in certain geographic regions are likely to be infected or exposed to a variant that is susceptible to these treatments, then use of these treatments may be authorized in these regions.”
According to the governor’s news release, while these monoclonal antibody treatments are no longer authorized for use in West Virginia at this time, there are several other therapies that are currently available, including another brand of monoclonal antibodies and two oral pills that work against the Omicron variant and are approved for the treatment of patients with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 who are at high risk for severe disease, including hospitalization or death.
West Virginia Coronavirus Czar Dr. Clay Marsh joined Gov. Justice’s briefing to explain the FDA’s decision to halt the use of these types of antibody treatments for the time being.
On Wednesday, Gov. Justice reported that there are now 18,149 active cases of COVID-19 and 1,043 COVID-related hospitalizations statewide; the highest number of hospitalizations for any day since the start of the pandemic.
The cumulative percent positivity rate stands at 7.85%.
An updated breakdown of the West Virginia County Alert Map is as follows: Red (40) | Orange (8) | Gold (2) | Yellow (4) | Green (1).
The governor went on to announce that 206 West Virginia National Guard members have now been authorized to deploy to 26 medical facilities across the state as part of the WVNG’s mission to provide staffing support to West Virginia hospitals in the face of the current surge.
“We continue to thank our National Guard in every way for their help, day in and day out at our hospitals,” Gov. Justice said.
“The overwhelming majority of the folks that are in the hospitals and are sick and on ventilators and are in the ICU units are unvaccinated,” Gov. Justice continued. “I’ve said it again and again: we need to get all of our people vaccinated and boosted.
“We don’t want to have our hospitals overrun, but we’re on the brink right now. We can’t afford for you to wait any longer. Please get vaccinated and boosted.”
COVID-19 booster shots are now authorized and encouraged for all West Virginians ages 12 and older.
Booster shots are available for free to all eligible West Virginians. The waiting period for those who received initial series Pfizer shots has been shortened to five months. Read more about booster eligibility at CDC.gov.
West Virginians can go to any location offering COVID-19 vaccines with their vaccination card to receive their booster. If your card has been lost, you can request a new one from the DHHR.
Initial series vaccinations remain available for free for all West Virginians ages 5 and older.
West Virginians interested in being vaccinated or having their children vaccinated are encouraged to visit Vaccinate.wv.gov or call the West Virginia Vaccine Info Line: 1-833-734-0965.
Also on Wednesday, Gov. Justice offered another reminder that the federal government is now offering three free N95 masks per American.
As a result, free masks will soon be made available at pharmacies and community health centers across West Virginia.
The governor also offered a reminder that the federal government continues to offer every household in America four free at-home COVID-19 tests.
To get your free at-home COVID tests, visit COVIDtests.gov.
Gov. Justice once again offered a reminder that he will deliver his sixth State of the State address Thursday, Jan. 27, 2022 – at 7 p.m.
The Governor was previously scheduled to deliver his State of the State address on Jan. 12. However, the night before the address, he tested positive for COVID-19 and announced that he would have to postpone the address to a later date.
The address will be broadcast live on the West Virginia Public Broadcasting Channel. Audio from the address will be broadcast live on West Virginia Public Radio. The address will also be livestreamed on the Governor’s social media channels, including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter.