Dozens of West Virginians Mistakenly Given Antibody Treatment Instead of COVID-19 Vaccine

January 1, 2021 Updated: January 1, 2021

The West Virginia National Guard announced on Thursday that 42 people in the state were mistakenly given the Regeneron monoclonal antibody treatment instead of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine.

The error took place at a vaccination clinic hosted by staff at the Boone County Health Department, with the National Guard saying no other individuals in West Virginia were given the antibody treatment instead of the vaccine.

“Medical experts with the Joint Interagency Task Force do not believe there is any risk of harm to these 42 individuals,” the National Guard said, adding that, in the wake of the incident, steps have been taken to prevent future mistakes in administering the vaccine.

“The moment that we were notified of what happened, we acted right away to correct it, and we immediately reviewed and strengthened our protocols to enhance our distribution process to prevent this from happening again,” said Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard, in a statement.

All the people who received the Regeneron treatment, which is the same drug cocktail that President Donald Trump was treated with when he fell ill with COVID-19, have been notified or are in the process of being notified about the error.

“These individuals will be offered the vaccine as soon as possible with a priority status,” the National Guard said.

The antibody treatment, which is typically administered as an intravenous infusion rather than, like vaccines, intramuscularly, was granted emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration in November.

“The product administered are antibodies that fight COVID-19,” said Dr. Clay Marsh, who leads West Virginia’s COVID-19 response, in a statement. “While this injection is not harmful, it was substituted for the vaccine. But this occurrence provides our leadership team an important opportunity to review and improve the safety and process of vaccination for each West Virginian.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that people who received COVID-19 antibody treatments should wait at least 90 days before getting the vaccine.

“Currently, there are no data on the safety and efficacy of mRNA COVID-19 vaccines in persons who received monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma as part of COVID-19 treatment,” the agency notes on its website. “Based on the estimated half-life of such therapies as well as evidence suggesting that reinfection is uncommon in the 90 days after initial infection, vaccination should be deferred for at least 90 days, as a precautionary measure until additional information becomes available, to avoid interference of the antibody treatment with vaccine-induced immune responses.”

Both Moderna’s and Pfizer’s vaccines, which are the only two approved for emergency use in the United States, are mRNA-type vaccines.

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