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AZ HEROES “first of its kind” study to look at vaccine effectiveness

Updated: Mar. 29, 2021 at 6:26 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - University of Arizona researchers are learning the real-world effectiveness of the vaccines through a study on those who have worked the frontlines throughout the pandemic.

“This is the first study of its kind to look at vaccine effectiveness in the U.S. including symptomatic and asymptomatic illness,” said Dr. Jeff Burgess, the lead researcher for the AZ HEROES Study.

The study is looking at first responders, healthcare workers and essential workers such as grocery store employees and teachers.

“Everyone is at high risk of exposure from treating patients or working with co-workers and the public,” he said. “Out of all the groups, the ones at the highest risk were the first responders.”

Dr. Burgess said the study found fully vaccinated participants are 90 percent less likely to be infected. The research is revealing information about the vaccines that the clinical trials didn’t look at.

“They only looked at symptomatic infections, so people that had illness, where we looked at people who both became ill and didn’t have any symptoms at all.”

AZ HEROES participants are tested for COVID on a weekly basis. Some participants had COVID before the study started last July, however no one has been infected a second time.

“That shows that the immunity has lasted for quite a while so far,” Dr. Burgess said.

Researchers are looking at how long antibodies last and when the vaccine may start to lose its effectiveness.

“There will also be a point in time where the immunity goes down from vaccination as well so that’s another reason why we want to continue following the participants.”

He says the AZ HEROES study will likely continue for another year. The study is still recruiting frontline workers and first responders who haven’t yet received a vaccine. Find information to participate, here.

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