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University of Arizona health experts study transmission of COVID-19 by vaccinated people

Clinical study underway to understand COVID-19 infection and transmission of the virus.
Published: Sep. 17, 2021 at 8:59 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - A clinical study at the University of Arizona is underway, working to understand COVID-19 infection and the transmission of the virus among vaccinated people.

Elizabeth Connick, chief of infectious diseases and professor of medicine and immunobiology at Banner-University Medical Center, said their goal is to answer the question of whether or not vaccinated people who are exposed to COVID-19 still shed the virus from their nose and mouth and infect others.

“The goal is to understand how effective the Moderna vaccine is at preventing asymptomatic infection and transmission,” Connick said. “We know the vaccine is very effective against severe disease and hospitalization and death, but it’s not known how effective they are at preventing asymptomatic infection.”

The trial was launched in March 2020 but has innovated as vaccines became readily available to the general public. Connick said the initial goal was to have 12,000 students involved, now they have around 4,000 individuals involved that are students and the general public ages 18 to 29.

“There’s been a lot of changes in the course of the study to adapt,” Connick said. “The vaccine became readily available then (the delta variant) came along.”

The major exclusion is they are not looking for people who have had COVID-19. They are looking for people who are interested in getting vaccinated or not. For those interested, they will get vaccinated and then nasal swab daily for a total of four months. Those who aren’t vaccinated but want to be involved in the study will do the same thing. Connick said both groups will also get their blood drawn numerous times throughout the four months.

“It’s simply the individuals’ choice, what they propose to do. Of course, we believe everyone should get vaccinated but the fact is some people don’t,” Connick said. “We’re recruiting them to the study as well because unfortunately they probably will get COVID. Many people will get COVID because the delta variant is so contagious most everyone will get it.”

KOLD News 13 asked Connick if she believed the study could result in some individuals deciding not to get the vaccine, if found they can still get the virus and infect others.

“It’s possible that some people may say that, but let me remind you vaccine prevents you still from getting severe COVID, getting hospitalized and dying,” Connick said. “The vaccine is very good in most people but there are some people who are immune-compromised and even if they are vaccinated they can still get COVID. If you are infected and spreading it to them, then they could die.”

The study is funded by the National Institutes of Health, and there are studies being done around the country.

If you’re interested in taking part in the study you can contact: CovidVaccineStudy@arizona.edu or call 520-621-8349.

Participants who complete all four months of the study receive $1,000.

Copyright 2021 KOLD News 13. All rights reserved.