CHARLESTON – The COVID-19 oral antiviral drugs that are seeking emergency approval from the federal government are not intended to boost vaccinations, a West Virginia health official said on Wednesday.
Pfizer and Merck have developed oral drugs that provide protection against the symptoms of the virus and are seeking emergency use approvals from the Food and Drug Administration.
The drugs can reduce the risk of hospitalization, death and severe symptoms in those at risk when used within a day or two of a positive test, according to Dr Clay Marsh, coronavirus tsar in West Virginia.
However, oral medications are not an alternative to vaccination and cannot be used as a kind of booster, he said.
“But these will not be used as boosters or will not really have a direct impact on the immune system”, said Marsh. “What they do is target critical parts of the virus and disable the virus’s ability to replicate and infect us. So they are working directly on the virus. “
Drugs could be a game-changer, however, he said,
“But that will not replace the requirement, the real importance for us to have our population fully vaccinated and to be able to also have this active immunity,” he added. said Marsh. “Active immunity also serves to even lower your risk of testing positive.”
The briefing was attended by Marsh, health worker Ayne Amjad, Jim Hoyer, head of the Interagency Vaccine Working Group, Secretary Bill Crouch of the Department of Health and Human Resources, and Governor Jim Justice.
The governor encouraged residents to get vaccinated and receive boosters because the Centers for Disease Control guidelines were written so that everyone was eligible, he said.
“I would say if you breathe you can go get the shot. “ says justice.
Justice also said that the adjusted unemployment rate for October fell to 4.3%, a new record and the 18th consecutive month of decline in the number of unemployed despite the pandemic.
“It’s amazing what’s going on in West Virginia” he said.