West Virginia mistakenly gives 42 people Regeneron IV Covid treatment instead of vaccination

A pharmacist dilutes the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine as it prepares to administer it to staff and residents at Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads, an older residential community in Falls Church, Virginia, on December 30, 2020.

Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images

The dozens of people in West Virginia mistakenly received Regeneron’s Covid-19 antibody treatment instead of the Moderna vaccine, the West Virginia National Guard announced Thursday.

According to the state’s national guard, 42 people received the treatment, which is administered intravenously, in a vaccination clinic operated by the Boone Department of Health. The national guard said he heard of the mistake on Wednesday.

Everyone who received the antibody treatment instead of the vaccine, which is given via a shot in the arm, was contacted, Julie Miller, an administrator at Boone’s health department, told CNBC in an email. She added that “we do not believe there is a risk of harm.”

Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody treatment, which must be administered through an IV drip, is considered a promising treatment for Covid-19 – especially when administered early during infection. But the confusion in West Virginia is just one example of confusion in the rush to distribute the vaccine to tens of millions of people. Implementation was slower than expected and characterized by logistical challenges.

“It was determined to be an isolated incident,” Miller said. “All the individuals affected are being offered the COVID-19 vaccine today.”

She said the health department would work closely with the state guard and the health and human resources department to review its policies and procedures.

Miller provided no details on what caused the mixture.

Representatives of the West Virginia National Guard and the office of the Governor of West Virginia did not return CNBC’s request for further comment on how the error occurred.

Maj.Gen. James Hoyer, adjutant general of the West Virginia National Guard, said in a statement that his troops “acted immediately” to correct the mistake as soon as they found out what had happened. “We immediately reviewed and strengthened our protocols to improve our distribution process to prevent this from happening again,” he said in a statement.

He added that the state would continue to increase the distribution of the vaccine “to save more and more lives every day.”

Dr. Clay Marsh, the state’s Covid-19 tsar, noted in a statement that the Regeneron treatment was administered incorrectly instead of the vaccine, the same product “that was administered to President Trump when he was infected.”

“Although this injection is not harmful, it has been replaced by the vaccine,” he said. “But this event provides our leadership with an important opportunity to review and improve the safety and process of vaccination for every West Virginia.”