Recent editorials from West Virginia newspapers:
The Herald-Dispatch on West Virginia residents who are participating in AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine trials:
COVID-19 and our response to it has dominated everything this year. There is progress in the fight, and some of it is happening here in West Virginia.
As reported by HD Media’s Caity Coyne this weekend, a trial is underway in the state for a vaccine. It’s not one of the two vaccines that have gotten most of the publicity lately. Those rely on new methods that will require unusual and expensive steps to deliver. This one is based on more traditional methods and can be rolled out to the general public by more traditional means.
Led by Dr. Suzanne Gharib in her private South Charleston practice, a team of West Virginia doctors and researchers is taking patients for AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine trials, among a few around the world.
So far, Gharib said, about 70 people from as far as Beckley and Morgantown have participated in the trial, and the team is looking for more to take part.
“The more people you have participate in a trial, especially those disproportionately affected (by COVID-19) in this case, the better your data will be,” Gharib told Coyne. “The more young people, old people, minorities, women — the more people we get, the more you can ensure (the vaccine) works with different genetic makeups, different populations.”
Unlike vaccines being developed by Pfizer and Moderna, the AstraZeneca version is not an mRNA, which is a vaccine based on synthetic genetic material (messenger RNA) that, once injected, creates a virus antigen inside a person’s body that can help the immune system fight the virus.
MRNA vaccines are a relatively new technology, Gharib said, while AstraZeneca’s vaccine — which injects the host with protein from the virus to train the immune system to fight it — is a more traditional approach.
Also unlike its competitors, the AstraZeneca vaccine could be a simpler option when it comes to distribution, especially for more rural or cash-strapped areas, Gharib said.
Because of their makeup, mRNA vaccines must be stored at extremely low temperatures, often requiring specialized freezers equipped with dry ice. With more traditional vaccines, the necessary equipment is similar to what’s needed for flu shots and other common vaccinations, Gharib said.
“That could be easier when it comes to asking pharmacies, maybe in the middle of nowhere, to store this and keep it on hand. Most probably are equipped already to do so,” Gharib said.
The light at the end of the tunnel? Rounding third and heading for home? It’s way too early to tell. After months of COVID-19 dominating everyday life, there could be relief, perhaps by next summer. It’s good to know that volunteers in West Virginia are playing a role, however small. Small, but significant.
The Journal on U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin saying he won’t vote to add seats to the Supreme Court:
Some in the Democratic Party are suggesting a virtual re-do of our political system. U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., is both right and responsible in letting them know he will not go along with that.
Depending on how two U.S. Senate races scheduled for January in Georgia go, it is possible Democrats will be able to get some of their agenda enacted. Radicals in the party say that should include “packing” the U.S. Supreme Court, adding states to the Union to gain more Democrat seats in Congress and doing away with the Senate filibuster.
“No way, shape or form,” Manchin has responded to those ideas. He told our reporter he will not support any of the three radical proposals.
All three could be bad for West Virginia, in various ways. Simply as a representative of Mountain State residents, Manchin is right to say no to the radicals’ plan.
Making his position clear now was an excellent decision, for both West Virginians and our fellow Americans. It provides at least some certainty to an uncertain political future.
The Charleston Gazette-Mail on practicing coronavirus safety guidelines during Thanksgiving:
West Virginians are about to face the toughest test to date when it comes to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Thanksgiving holiday is a time when many in the Mountain State and throughout the nation travel to be with family, friends and other loved ones. While people certainly travel some for Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day, often to recreational destinations, it’s nothing compared to Thanksgiving — where almost everyone has some sort of long-established tradition of gathering together, sometimes with people they’ll only see on that holiday.
The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is advising Americans to stay home, as COVID-19 cases continue to skyrocket. Over the past week, more than a million new cases were detected in the United States, and deaths surpassed 250,000.
In West Virginia, the pandemic is the worst it has ever been. Active cases topped 12,000 for the first time Friday morning, according to numbers from the state Department of Health and Human Resources. New cases are typically topping 1,000 per day. Double-digit death counts have become the norm, with another 16 reported Friday morning, bringing the total to 639.
Also as of Friday morning, there were 402 West Virginians hospitalized because of COVID-19. Of those, 120 were in intensive care and 51 were on ventilators.
West Virginia’s first major surge in cases and deaths came in the weeks after Memorial Day. Subsequent holidays have shown similar patterns. Thanksgiving can be especially dangerous, given that many typically gather with family and friends of a range of ages, and the virus hits the elderly and those with underlying, chronic health problems hardest.
The virus already has forced the closure of several West Virginia school districts. More will surely have to cancel in-person instruction, if a Thanksgiving surge occurs. And that might be the least of worries in the Mountain State, given the high rate of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths already.
Stay home. Call your loved ones. Have a virtual gathering over Zoom or FaceTime or something similar, if you can. It won’t be the same. It won’t be easy. But it’s the right thing to do for yourself, your family and even strangers, who could become sick or die because of someone’s selfish decision to travel and gather.
It’s truly sad this is the way it has to be this year. That’s the thing about living through a historic, once-in-a-generation pandemic. It’s no fun, but the sacrifices made are vitally important to keeping fellow West Virginians healthy and alive for Thanksgivings to come.
The Associated Press