CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WV News) – The UK variant of COVID-19 – about 50 percent more contagious, about 50 percent more deadly, and targeting young people – is on the rise in West Virginia, the state director of pandemic medical response said.
State officials will “have numbers on that and reports next week,” but “we are seeing more positive tests confirmed as a variant virus, and particularly a British variant,” said Dr. Clay Marsh of WVU Medicine, Friday during a state pandemic briefing three times a week.
The state has reached about a third of its population with at least the first dose of the COVID-19 vaccination, and that’s good. But getting as soon as possible would be at least 50% or 66% better after the virus news, Marsh pointed out.
He pointed to the successes of Great Britain, with the first injection of the vaccine in about 50% of the population, and Israel, with the first injection in about 66% of the population. The Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines currently in use are effective against the British variant (B.1.1.7), Marsh added.
“They have been able to see a large number of people going to the hospital and also the number of people going to the hospital decreasing [are better] controlling … the current deployment of specific variants in their country, “said Marsh.
“So I’m saying that not to scare people – although I think it’s important to realize that no one is at risk of catching COVID-19 today, including young people – but also very, very important that every West Virginia who is now able to meet condition, if you are 16 years and over, to get the COVID vaccine you must choose to be vaccinated, “said Marsh.
He added that “the way we prevent the spread of this variant, so as not to infect more people, is to make more of us immune,” Marsh said.
Marsh appealed to parents to bring their high school students aged 16, 17, and 18 to get vaccinated immediately. Marsh also urged immediate vaccinations for students and “other West Virginia youth, up to the age of 30 or 35.”
“You risk severe consequences and become infected with COVID, but also … you run the risk of spreading this variant to more vulnerable people in our state,” added Marsh.
Marsh and Governor Jim Justice also said it was important for West Virginia residents in other age categories to be vaccinated as quickly as possible.
The race now is to try to stay ahead of mutations, Marsh pointed out, adding that would help prevent newer mutations, plus give researchers time to find new answers as COVID-19 changes.
In background to Marsh’s comments, the state’s seven-day trending figures released Friday showed two out of eight age groups – ages 10-19, and ages 20-29 – accounted for 1,099 cases during that period, or about 38% of the total. of 2,900 cases.
And Justice reports that the state rate following vaccine dosing here, which was once near perfect, has fallen to around 92%.
The counties of Berkeley, Jefferson and Raleigh are now red in both metrics on the County Alert System map.
Fayette, Mingo, Morgan, Pendleton and Putnam are not red on the map, but red on infection rates.
– Women continue to account for nearly two-thirds of the nearly 2.5 million laboratory tests administered during the pandemic.
While more women than men are confirmed to have COVID-19, there is only about a 5% difference there vs. an estimated 25% difference in the test rate.
– The number of active cases, which fell to 5,157 as of March 12, has continued to rise since then, to 6,642 on Friday. State officials should hope this isn’t a repeat of the last time the virus rose from 5,000 to 6,000, in November: It took only about two weeks for the number of active cases to double that time, on its way. to pandemic highs of 29,257 on January 10.
– The total death toll from the West Virginia pandemic now stands at 2,688, or about 150 deaths per 100,000 population.
New Jersey, with more than 275 deaths per 100,000 population, is the worst in this category, followed by New York, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Mississippi and Arizona. Unsurprisingly, Hawaii, which is separated from the rest of the world by oceans, is at best, with a little more than 30 deaths per 100,000, with Vermont second best and then Alaska.
The United States continues to lead the world in COVID-19 deaths, with more than 550,000, and confirmed cases, with around 31 million, but a case fatality rate of 1.8% lower than some other countries, including Mexico (9.1%), China. (4.8%), Australia and Italy (3%), United Kingom (2.9%), Germany (2.7%), Spain (2.3%), Canada (2.2%). Russia (2.1%) and France (2%).
The most recent COVID-19 deaths in West Virginia, according to DHHR, were: A 74-year-old man from Jackson County, an 83-year-old woman from Putnam County, a 72-year-old woman from Hancock County, 79- year-old male from Fayette County, and a 94 year old boy from Harrison County.