West Virginia will soon measure levels of COVID-19 antibodies in vaccinated nursing home residents who received the injections early.
The move comes after Pfizer-BioNTech released data earlier this week showing their vaccine efficacy dropped to 84 percent after six months.
Nursing home residents were among the first to receive the vaccine in December 2020, after the facilities quickly became places of death and despair early on in the pandemic.
State health officials believe that — if the data is correct — some early adopters of the vaccine are not as protected as they are right after receiving the injections.
West Virginia will soon begin research to find out whether the state’s elderly population who received COVID-19 vaccines early in the rollout of the shots still have high antibody levels
Starting in August, nursing home residents who are five or more months away from receiving the vaccine will be able to voluntarily participate in the study.
Their blood will be drawn and tested for COVID-19 antibodies.
Data from the study will be passed on to federal officials, who will consider it in their decision to approve the use of a booster vaccine injection.
“Our goal is to increase the existing knowledge and information about the vaccines,” said Marty Wright, CEO of the West Virginia Health Care Association. NBC.
While the intentions may be noble, not everyone agrees with the Mountain State’s efforts.
dr. Clay Marsh (pictured), one of West Virginia’s top COVID advisers, says the state should put more effort into getting unvaccinated people rather than participating in this type of research
“In West Virginia, we have been very aggressive in vaccinating our long-term care patients, but we are now concerned and more concerned about whether we have adequate immunity in those who are fully vaccinated,” Dr. Clay Marsh, executive dean of health sciences at West Virginia University and one of the state’s leading COVID advisors, tokd NBC.
The virus is starting to ramp up in West Virginia, as it is across the country.
According to data from the CDC, the number of cases has increased by 289 percent in the past two weeks, from 67 per day on July 15 to 261 per day on July 29.
Only 46 percent of West Virginia residents have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and just under 40 percent have been fully vaccinated — both of which are among the worst in the nation.
However, the state is not without trying to increase its low vaccination rates.
State officials held a vaccine raffle earlier this year, where prizes such as cash, modified weapons and modified trucks were awarded to vaccinated winners.
The effort did not appear to do much to increase vaccination coverage.
Another problem with the antibody tests is that they may not give a clear picture of how protected a person is.
COVID cases in West Virginia on the rise again, up nearly 300% in the past two weeks
While it is believed that higher antibody levels produce more immunity against the virus, there are no studies yet to prove that this is the case.
“The question of whether antibodies are a marker of adequate immunity is one we haven’t answered yet,” Dr. Michael Wasserman, a member of California’s vaccine advisory committee, told NBC.
Research shows that older people develop lower antibody responses to the vaccine.
A large part of breakthrough cases – where a fully vaccinated person tests positive for the virus – also among the elderly.
In recent months, discussions about the need for a third dose have been picked up.
dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said in the past that he expects a third dose to be needed in the coming months.
Although, he said: earlier this month that he does not currently expect booster injections to be necessary for fully vaccinated individuals.
faci said: earlier this weekHowever, those who are vulnerable to the virus may still require a third dose even after vaccination.
Pfizer also released data earlier this week showing that their vaccine’s booster injection could increase antibodies 11-fold in the elderly.
Other studies have also shown that people who have had organ transplants can benefit greatly from a third dose of the vaccine.