Randy Yohe Published

COVID-19 Numbers Rising, New Variant, New Vaccine

A thermometer and stethoscope are seen lying on top of a clipboard.Wesley JvR/peopleimages.com/Adobe Stock

West Virginia University Chief Health Officer Dr. Clay Marsh said that the variant EG.5 is now the most common form of COVID-19 in the nation and on the upswing in West Virginia. In a Wednesday media briefing with Gov. Jim Justice, Marsh said the variant is not more severe, but more evasive to the immune system.

“It is able to trick the immune system for people even who’ve had vaccines in the past,” Marsh said. “Even those who’ve had COVID in the past. So we are seeing an upswing in the number of people that are being infected.” 

Marsh said a new vaccine due out in mid-September will prove extremely helpful in COVID-19 protection.

“It really does appear that this new vaccine will be very, very effective, and give us more protection against this new variant,” he said.

Marsh said people over 65 should be more careful now along with people that have illnesses or genetic conditions that make them immunosuppressed. 

“In other words, people taking chemotherapy right now for cancer or taking drugs to influence immune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn’s disease or inflammatory bowel disease,” Marsh said. “Those medications that are being used can suppress your immune system.”

Marsh suggested early fall will be a good time for everyone to get their flu, COVID-19 and a new RSV vaccine, protecting against the respiratory syncytial virus.

“The RSV vaccine is particularly important for children and older West Virginia citizens,” he said. “RSV can give people a pretty severe illness who are really young, or or that are older, and the flu vaccine is good for all of us,18 and over.”

Marsh said the flu vaccine, the RSV vaccine, and the COVID-19 vaccine all should be taken around the same time period, in the September-October timeframe.