DANVILLE — The West Virginia National Guard says an error on Dec. 30 that resulted in 42 people in Boone County receiving Regeneron antibody product instead of the Moderna vaccine for COVID-19 will not harm the patients, but provides an important opportunity to the guard to review and improve its vaccine distribution protocols.
According to a press release from the guard, all individuals who received the antibody have been contacted or are in the process of being contacted, and the West Virginia Division of Health and Human Resources will also follow up regularly with all individuals who received the antibody as an added precaution. These individuals will be offered the vaccine as soon as possible with a priority status.
Boone County Health Department Administrator Julie Miller spoke about the mix-up on Thursday morning.
“We picked up the vaccines just like we were supposed to at the hub (in Charleston),” she said. “We signed the chain of custody, all the numbers matched and we brought it back and if you looked at the bottle, they don’t give you a lot of information on it. We gave what we thought was the vaccine and it ended up being the antibody. It isn’t going to hurt anyone and they will be offered the vaccine today but not through the health department.”
Miller said they were given five vials that ended up being about 50 doses.
“We administered 42 before we got a call from the (West Virginia) National Guard. We had people lined up for it before it arrived because Gov. Justice said it would be available,” she added.
West Virginia’s COVID-19 czar spoke about the mix-up via a press release.
“The product administered are antibodies that fight COVID-19,” said Dr. Clay Marsh. “In fact, this product was the same one that was administered to President Trump when he became infected. 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.”
Miller said labeling was an issue from her perspective.
“It is labeled in a very different way and when we got our chain of custody paper, it said ‘Moderna COVID-19 vaccine’ and the lot numbers and everything matched,” she said.
The national guard said it took immediate action after learning of the mistake.
“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, via press release. “I remain incredibly proud of all that our team has accomplished. Our No. 1 goal has been to save lives, and, as we continue to ramp up distribution of the vaccine all across the state, we continue to save more and more lives every single day.”
Reporter Phil Perry can be reached at pperry @hdmediallc.com or at 304-307-2401.