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Justice and team urge vaccinations as COVID variants spread across world

MORGANTOWN — Gov. Jim Justice and his team emphasized the need for people to get vaccinated as the various COVID variants proliferate in the U.S. and around the world among the unvaccinated.

Justice opened Tuesday’s briefing by again promoting the vaccine lottery, titled Do it for Baby Dog.

So far, he said, 70,000 have registered for the lottery, with the first drawing set for June 20. You can register at

COVID-19 Czar Clay Marsh said the Indian variant, now called Delta, is the most common around the world and is 40% more infectious than the U.K. variant, which is the most common in the U.S. and in West Virginia. And U.K. is 40% more infectious than the Washington variant that came out of China and first showed up in Washington.

Variants occur, he said, when unvaccinated people get infected and the virus grows and replicates inside them. Replication leads to genetic mistakes, or mutations, and successful mutations can make the new version more infectious and deadly.

CDC reports that vaccination provides 91% real-world protection against COVID and 100% protection against hospitalization, serious disease, and death.

The United Kingdom, Marsh said, is seeing a doubling of Delta-variant cases every eight days. It had been aggressive in getting its citizens to get their first vaccine dose, but didn’t push them to complete the course — and a single dose is only 30% effective against Delta. So now the U.K. is considering another lockdown.

The Dominion Post asked about the various logistical challenges that are leaving many parts of the world lagging in getting vaccinated.

There are some countries, such as ours and Israel, that can both afford to pay for the vaccines and have been forward-thinking about using them. The U.K. is in that same position but didn’t emphasize second shots — and that strategy is not working.

Other parts of the world don’t have much vaccine, for a number of reasons, Marsh said. One is global demand that limits supply to some areas. Another is lack of money. There has been some hope that emerging vaccines such as Astra Zeneca’s might help with that.

Another reason, he said, is internal challenges, including decentralized oversight that hampers building supply chains to handle, distribute, store, and administer the vaccines.

“It really does reinforce how lucky we are here in the U.S. and West Virginia. … These vaccines really are miracle drugs that we have been given.”

Our issue is not lack of supply but convincing people to get vaccinated, he said.

Marsh also fielded a question about booster shots and when they’ll come. That’s not known yet, he said. People in the vaccine test groups are being followed for reductions in immunity, and at six months post-vaccination they’re still doing well. People who’ve had breakthrough cases after being vaccinated are also being monitored.

Justice closed his briefing with an appeal to those who are still reluctant. “Sit and have a rational family discussion,” he said. “We don’t want more people to die.”

TWEET David Beard @dbeardtdp