West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice announced Monday that the nation’s first statewide Covid-19 antibody study has launched last Thursday.
The program, called the “Booster Battlefield Assessment,” asks for volunteers who are fully vaccinated and age 60 or older to be tested for antibodies.
The results will be sent to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), along with “the vaccine manufacturers,” Justice said. He didn’t confirm which vaccine manufacturers in the US would receive the data.
It will help “assist in determining if a third dose of vaccine is best for our citizens over 60 who have had their first vaccine (that) is six months old,” Justice said.
Justice said, “We’re going to move as quickly as we possibly can to go to our nursing homes, or on a voluntary basis, anybody that’s aged 60 and above that absolutely wants to get their antibodies tested.”
Justice said that it is the first statewide program to test and measure antibody levels. “West Virginia has led the way … Little old West Virginia,” he said.
The state will work with West Virginia University, Marshall University and the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) to run the program.
West Virginia Health Secretary Bill Crouch said those involved in the program are working “to get this started immediately. We should be drawing samples within the next couple of days.”
Since it is a research project, the program will be funded mostly by the state, Crouch said.
At the news conference, Justice said he wouldn’t mandate vaccines or masks, but continued to urge people to get vaccinated.
“Don’t be too late. Get your vaccine. Not only will it make you feel better and put you at ease, but it’ll put your family at ease, all your loved ones at ease, and it will absolutely make it to where you are really part of the solution,” he said. “You’re part of the solution to get this thing dead and killed and gone forever.”